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Fewer councillors, community boards on council agenda

SUBMISSIONS calling for the number of district councillors and wards to be reduced, and the establishment of community boards, will be among those considered at tomorrow’s representation review hearings.

Staff recommendations include that the councillors consider these particular submissions and provide rationale either for or against them, “on the basis of providing fair and effective representation of the district’s communities of interest”.

The staff report, authorised by chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann and internal partnerships director James Baty, also recommends that the council accepts submissions on population equity, rural representation, city representation and opposition to changes to the Taruheru-Patutahi ward, “on the basis that they identify the district’s communities of interest and meet the principles of fair and effective representation”.

The Tairawhiti Residents Association and Ross Revington have asked to speak at tomorrow’s hearings.

The residents association supports the suggestion of another submitter, Manu Caddie, to reduce the number of councillors to seven — five in the city and two rural — and the introduction of three community boards.

The council received 18 submissions supporting its initial proposal, which is to retain the five present wards with an additional city representative, have no community boards and adjust some of the ward boundaries.

There were 13 submissions in opposition.

Nine of the opposing submissions asked for a reduction in the number of councillors, with three saying the savings could be spent on community boards so a high level of elected members would be retained.

Two submitters supported the council’s decision not to have community boards.

Two submitters said there were too many councillors for effective decision-making and that guidelines recommended a maximum of 14 representatives for regional councils.

One compared the proposed lift in councillor numbers with Wellington City Council, which has 14 councillors and a much larger population than Gisborne.

Two preferred a 12-member council made up of nine city and three rural councillors.

Seven submitters suggested a reduction in the number of wards and four suggested no wards at all, with councillors being elected at large.

There were three submissions opposing the proposed inclusion of Hexton/Makauri in the Tawhiti-Uawa ward as they believed their location in western Gisborne was not a good fit for the East Coast Tawhiti-Uawa ward.

One suggested the targeted population for the wards could be met by including Okitu or all of Wainui in the Tawhiti-Uawa ward as this area had more in common with the East Coast ward than Hexton/Makauri.

Some submitters favoured changing to the single transferrable vote system used for hospital board electionsSome submitters favoured changing to the single transferrable vote system used for hospital board elections.

A submission from former deputy mayor Margaret Thorpe — one of eight submissions to come in after the April 12 closing date, which staff recommend the council receive along with the other submissions — said that to prevent dictatorship or “just staff running the show”, mayors should stand down after three continuous terms.

“There should be no horse trading or tags put on the chair and deputy position as Mr Foon tried to do with me,” she submitted.

The council will consider the submissions and direct staff to prepare a final representation proposal for adoption at the council meeting on May 17.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann's activity report for this week's Future Tairawhiti meeting covers the option of amalgamating Activate Tairawhiti and Heart of Gisborne.