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Council agrees to shrink itself PDF Print E-mail
2 August 2018 - By Mick Jensen - Ashburton district councillors have approved a proposal to reduce the district's representation from 12 to nine.
The three-ward structure, with a slight amendment to the ward boundaries, will continue.
From the next election, council will be made up of the mayor, five councillors from the urban ward and two each from the Eastern and Western wards.

  The proposal was debated by councillors at an extraordinary council meeting last week, although Mayor Donna Favel was overseas in China as a guest of goat milk business Fineboon.
The majority of councillors were in favour of the representation change, but Cr Selwyn Price was a strong  opponent.
He was backed in his support for the status quo by Cr Thelma Bell and Cr Peter Reveley.
Cr Price said the consultation process had ``failed'' and the proposal put out to the public had featured ``closed'' wording, which had been difficult to answer.
The community had been pushed in one direction and one direction only and that was to reduce elected numbers.
He said the number of councillors should be based on the urban/rural split of the population.
The urban population was 60 per cent of the district, so there should be six urban and four rural councillors elected.
``The motivation for a 5/4 split seems to me to be rewarding the rural ratepayers, who pay the greater part of the district's rates.''
The proposal, in effect, meant voting for a pay increase for councillors, Cr Price said.
``If they upped their workload by 25 per cent, then it's fine.''
Council consulted on the proposed and received 33 submissions, of which 67 per cent were in support of reducing representation from 12 to nine.
Cr Stuart Wilson was annoyed with Cr Price's persistent questioning of the consultation process and the well-debated proposal.
``It's Cr Price versus the report,'' he said.
``We rely on what submitters say. We can't surmise what people are thinking.
``We've decided on a representation of nine and ratepayers have had their chance to voice an opinion and the majority has gone with it,'' said Cr Wilson.
Other councillors agreed that it was the right time to reduce representation numbers.
Cr Liz McMillan said it was ``time for a shake-up''.
Cr Diane Rawlinson said she was in favour in principle, although she was concerned about the extra workload for fewer councillors.
Cr Russell Ellis said reducing numbers was not about money, but about ``doing the best for the district''.
Cr Thelma Bell said a reduction in councillor numbers meant ``less opportunity for diversity''.
Cr Peter Reveley, who said he would not be standing next term, said the workload of councillors needed to be looked at and better spread.
The proposal to reduce representation numbers can be appealed by the original submitters only.
If no appeal is received, the Local Government Commission will make its determination at least two days before the next election, scheduled for October 12, 2019.
Councils review representation every six years. 

Read more local news at The Ashburton Courier

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