Status quo for council numbers
Hauraki District Council has voted for the status quo in its representation review.
Council has amended its initial proposal, which was to reduce the number of ward councillors across the district.
The 12 councillors, with four on each ward — Waihi, Paeroa and The Plains — were to be reduced to nine with the mayor remaining.
The council has received 32 written and online submissions across the district about the proposal.
Six of the submitters voiced their concerns to council last Wednesday as part of a hearing.
Waihi submitter Kerry Single says the status quo would generate opposition.
“There will be an opposition in Paeroa and The Plains and I expect the case to go through the commission with council going ahead with a three-councillor per ward proposal,” he says.
He says the last time council had chosen the status quo, the decision was opposed by The Plains ward.
“And we thought it was a jackup,” he says.
Part of the review also asked whether council should reestablish community boards, but Mayor John Tregidga said it is not on the agenda. The possibility of bringing back community boards was raised in the feedback, but there is absolutely no appetite from council to go down this road.
“We used to have community boards but they eventually disbanded themselves. Now we have ward working parties made up of the elected members from each ward that essentially do what community boards would do if we had them,” he says.
Kerry wants community boards to return district-wide.
“A Waihi ward meeting has not taken place since October 2016.
“The ward now meets in Paeroa and it is not doing the same local job than community boards would do,” he says.
But former Waihi councillor Mary Carmine says the boards have limited powers.
“To my view, it is a waste of time and money.
“The boards have only the powers that council can give to them — which is not much,” she says.
Mary also raises concerns about Waihi’s increasing population based on the 2013 census, with results of this year’s census not yet available.
“According to the
(2013) census, Waihi is 11 per cent over average and this would justify the town to have one more councillor on board.
“The town is under represented in terms of its population,” she says.
Council says that Waihi Ward is very slightly over the allowable range by around 69 people but Mary believes it is much more.
Mayor Tregidga says that in the council’s view, the numbers are too small to justify an extra person for the town.
“The proposal to continue with an even number of councillors across all wards reflects the current council’s view of Hauraki as ‘one district’.
“While invested in representing the people in their own wards, our councillors are also interested in working together on the bigger picture — what’s best for the entire district as a whole,” he says.
The amended proposal will be ratified on the next council meeting (August 29) and will be followed by a one-month appeal period inviting further feedback from the community.
The decision goes to the Local Government Commission to rule on the final decision.
The possibility of bringing back community boards was raised in the feedback, but there is absolutely no appetite from council to go down this road. We used to have community boards but they eventually disbanded themselves.’ JOHN TREGIDGA Hauraki Mayor