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Strong public interest in councillor review

Strong public interest in councillor review

A proposal to cut the number of regional councillors in the Bay of Plenty has attracted strong public comment.

Environment Bay of Plenty has received 79 submissions on its recommendation to reduce the number of constituency seats from 14 to 10. Ten of the submissions supported the plan, while 68 opposed it. One supported parts of the proposal but opposed other parts.

Twenty nine submitters have asked to speak at the hearing, which is scheduled for Thursday 31 August in Whakatane. It will probably run longer because of this, says chairman John Cronin.

“Many people are taking the opportunity to be heard, which is always good,” Mr Cronin says. “There has been quite a lot of public interest in this issue.” After the hearing, councillors will draw up a final proposal which, if appealed by submitters, will be sent to the Local Government Commission. The Commission has the final say.

At the moment, Environment Bay of Plenty has 11 general constituency seats and three Maori constituency seats. The proposal is for eight general seats and two Maori seats.

Mr Cronin says the main impetus for the representation review was the increase in population in the western Bay of Plenty. “We felt we needed to ensure the people there continue to get fair representation.” The council also considers that 14 councillors – the maximum number for regional councils – may be too many for the work involved in delivering the functions of the regional council.

Submissions closed on Friday.

Ends

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