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Views sought on cutting councillor numbers

Views sought on cutting councillor numbers and adding rural community board

Cut councillor numbers from 12 to 10, add an extra community board for the rural sector, and retain ‘at large’ voting rather than reintroduce voting by wards.

These are the key recommendations for the next local government elections that Rotorua Lakes Council now wants public feedback on.

Rotorua residents have until 2 October to make submissions on the proposals, which would come into effect at council elections in October 2016.

The recommendations follow a comprehensive programme of public engagement carried out over recent months by the council’s Your Choice Working Party of three councillors and three community representatives. At a Rotorua Lakes Council meeting last month [26 August], councillors agreed to put all of the working party’s recommendations out for public consultation.

Once public hearings have taken place and written submissions considered during October, the mayor and councillors are expected to make their final decisions on arrangements for next year’s elections at a council meeting on 12 November.

However those decisions will still be subject to a public appeal process with the outcome of any appeals lodged to be determined by the Local Government Commission.

Your Choice Working Party chair Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said the recommendations reflect strong themes that came out of a robust conversation working party members had with the community.

“It became clear that most people wanted a say in electing all councillors, not just voting for a small number of councillors standing in a local ward. For that reason we’re recommending the current ‘at large’ voting arrangement be retained.

“We also heard a compelling message from the rural community who felt their voice often wasn’t being heard. So a new Rural Community Board is being proposed as the best mechanism to improve engagement with that key sector. It would mean we’d have two community boards, as we’re also recommending we retain the Lakes Community Board to represent the interests of lakeside communities.

“With two community boards being proposed our working party was of the view that ten councillors was adequate, and a more appropriate number than the current 12 councillors.

“So now the council wants to hear what Rotorua residents think. It’s important that people take up the opportunity to make a submission and say whether or not they support these recommendations. And if there is something they don’t agree with, then tell us what alternative arrangements they’d prefer,” Mrs Raukawa-Tait said.

Copies of the consultation document and submission forms can be collected from the council’s Customer Centre, District Library and the council’s Ideas Store in Hinemoa Street, or downloaded from the council website – rotorualakescouncil.nz. Submissions close on 2 October and can also be made online.

ENDS

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