NCC councillors ask Napierites for their views on how best to represent the city's communities.
Napier City Councillors have moved to invite formal feedback on the current mixed ward governance system.
Councils are required to review their representation arrangements every six years, to ensure that they are best suited to the city or district represented.
In an item to Napier City Council’s Finance Committee yesterday afternoon, officers recommended consultation on a ward-only system incorporating two elected members in Ahuriri, two in Onekawa-Tamatea, four in Nelson Park and four in Taradale. It also recommended a council of 12 elected members plus Mayor, and found that community boards were unsuitable for Napier city.
Councillors voiced their appreciation for the detailed analysis and research compiled by the Governance team (the report is available to view at http://napier.infocouncil.biz under yesterday’s Finance Committee agenda). However 11 Councillors spoke in favour of the status quo, which is a mixed system of six ward Councillors and six at-large. Councillor Keith Price moved a substitute motion that the public consult on the status quo option.
“I am very protective of this city and I’d like to see the status quo remain,” Councillor Price said, adding that he feared that that a full ward system would mean some Councillors might “sometimes put their own wards ahead of other wards” when making decisions.
Councillor Claire Hague valued a mixed system as a way of encouraging voter turnout. Councillor Annette Brosnan said that she liked the mix offered currently. “We are sworn in to represent the city as a whole, but in a full ward system we would always have a community of interest at heart.” And Mayor Bill Dalton also valued the status quo. “If it works for us, it works for us,” he said.
However Councillor Maxine Boag spoke against the status quo option and drew on her experience as a ward Councillor, alongside Councillor Api Tapine, to illustrate her point. “We have a huge ward. We struggle to keep on top of it all. It would be so helpful to have four Councillors to share the workload. Single ward Councillors have huge areas and if they are unwell or out of town it’s hard to keep up.”
With just one Councillor opposed to the substitute motion, it will now go to a full Council meeting in April. Councillors invite the community to express their views on how best to represent communities of interest in Napier ahead of the meeting in April. For a list of Councillors and their contact details please see https://www.napier.govt.nz/our-council/mayor-and-councillors/councillors/
Formal consultation will begin after the April meeting.
21 March 2018
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