Log In

Reset Password

Proposal a town ‘onslaught’ says Coast councillor

A disaster for rural people and the East Coast in particular. That is how Waiapu ward member Bill Burdett is describing this week’s Gisborne District Council decision on its representation review.

The council has given guidance to staff to prepare a proposal with no wards, eight to 10 councillors and three community boards for the 2019 election, which Mr Burdett believes will not work for the East Coast.

As he drove home from Thursday’s meeting and reflected, he came to the realisation that the proposal was an “onslaught” from town-based councillors, he said.

A community board on the Coast would have to have representation from every township from Tolaga Bay all the way up to Hicks Bay, which was not feasible.

Making the election “at large” — in which there was just one vote for the council and mayor and no wards — would make it probably impossible for anyone on the Coast to get elected because of the higher urban population.

“I am disappointed that two of my fellow rural councillors (Pat Seymour and Graeme Thomson) and Mayor Meng Foon were not at the meeting,” he said.

“Their presence would have brought a sense of balance. His worship has a lot of sympathy for the rural area.”

There was a huge ideological difference between the urban and rural councillors.

Mr Burdett is not hopeful the proposal will be changed when the council meets to finalise it next Thursday.

'Angels can fly but I do not think they will fly on this occasion'“Angels can fly but I do not think they will fly on this occasion,” he said.

The staff had done a good job in presenting all the information but there were too many councillors in town who wanted change.

The objective was to provide the best representation possible but he did not think this proposal met that.

The community board system would not work on the Coast. The difficulties of representing such a large area had already been experienced by the hospital board and the runanganui.

To represent the Coast adequately your face had to be known to everybody and you had to be on a first name basis.

This different proposal had come out of the blue at Thursday’s meeting and it was not the best way for the Coast to have representation, he said.

Bill Burdett