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GDC representation to be reviewed 2020

REPRESENTATION for Gisborne District Council (the number of councillors and wards) will be reviewed after three years despite efforts by rural councillor Graeme Thomson to have it unchanged for six years.

The council was discussing the decision by the Local Government Commission which rejected the representation proposal submitted by the council and decided the status quo should remain for this year’s local government elections.

The decision means the election in October will be for a mayor and 13 councillors in four wards.

Democracy and support services manager Heather Kohn told councillors they could choose to abide by the commission’s determination for the next six years or revisit it for the 2022 election.

The council decided to leave the matter for the incoming council after the 2019 elections.

Waipaoa ward councillor Graeme Thomson urged the council to follow the commission’s lead and leave the representation unchanged for six years.

Shannon Dowsing said the council had recommended having less councillors and creating three community boards. Leaving the status quo for six years benefited the minority of councillors who voted against the council’s proposal.

In the next term the council could invest more time into consultation on its preferred option.

Larry Foster did not want to maintain the status quo for six years. There had been a lot of public support for the council’s proposal and community boards, he said.

Brian Wilson said there was a case to have look at this after the election. He thought the council did not prepare itself well this time. It did not direct its staff to do a good presentation and went with a scenario which was a “last pick out of the hat arrangement.”

It did not surprise him the commission did not go with it. It needed another look at and a much better process put forward for next time.

Bill Burdett said he was the only rural councillor present when the council’s decision was made. Common sense had prevailed with the commission’s decision, and he would like to see it left in place.

Mr Thomson said the council had been told in no uncertain terms by the commission that they got it wrong.

For the past 18 years he had been on the council the review was done every six years. An early review would involve a lot of time and cost. There was no real reason why the council could not wait for the normal six-year cycle.

There were so many big issues that were on the table now that the review would be rushed through and it would not be right again.

“What is the point of the rush,” he said. “Why don’t we just stick with the timetable that is required of us by law?”

A resolution moved by Mr Thomson to leave representation alone for six years was defeated and one to review it after the election was carried.