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Public’s views sought on shape of council for 2022

Kāpiti District Mayor K Gurunathan wants Kapiti residents to give their views on how they should be represented at the next local body elections.

Council is consulting on a proposal to reduce the district’s wards from four to three without community boards, but to retain the current mixed model of five ward councillors and five elected district-wide, plus the mayor.

“Our proposal was developed and refined over many months of briefings and discussions within Council and with community boards and external advisers from the Local Government Commission, as well as in-depth research done at the outset to test what people want from their representation at Council. The research told us Kāpiti residents want a democratic model which brings them closer to Council decision-makers. We also heard they value the diversity of the district and want to retain our distinct communities of interest.

“Councillors see the mixed model as striking a balance between providing good local representation and doing what is best for the district as a whole. Of course, the thornier issue for many will be around the future of community boards. Community board members were invited to at least five briefings on the matter, so have been kept well informed and I hope will also provide submissions.

“We’ve had the current arrangement since 2004. A lot has changed since then in how both our communities and Council operate. The key question for the public is do they think this different structure will deliver better representation for them? We have an opportunity to be bold and innovative in finding new or better ways to make it easier for people to engage with us,” Mayor Gurunathan says.

“We’re also considering the wider context of the vast societal and technological advances since our current system was established in 2004, and the need to make local government fit for the future.

“But this is an iterative process. It’s important to stress that councillors continue to have an open mind on this. We want to know what people think before deciding on a final proposal,” Mayor Gurunathan says.

“The legislation requires us to put forward just one proposal for public consultation, but we have looked at a range of options and will take the public’s views into account.”

Mayor Gurunathan said uncertainty over the Covid-19 alert levels made consultation more challenging, particularly for people who were unable or unwilling to engage online.

“Given the possibility we could continue to be under constraints imposed by Covid-19, the council will, over these four weeks and beyond, be going the extra mile to extend the range of communication avenues to enable submitters to participate. We have been there before, and we will be there again.”

“Learning more effective ways of conducting our local democracy under Covid-19 constraints is likely to be the new normal. We should be embracing the challenges instead of abandoning our democratic responsibility by delaying or deferring consultation, especially if it would mean missing legislative deadlines, as would happen here,” Mayor Gurunathan said.

Council is inserting a copy of the discussion document in some of the local newspapers. If people can access a computer, the best way to provide feedback is online at www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/haveyoursay. Consultation closes at 5pm Monday 4 October.

When COVID-19 lockdown restrictions lift, hard copies of the consultation document and submission form will be available at the Council’s office and libraries and service centres in Paraparaumu, Ōtaki, Waikanae, and Paekākāriki.

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