Waipā District councillors have recommended a reduction to their numbers, boundary changes, the scrapping of a rural ward and the retention of its two community boards.
The recommendations, made at a Finance and Corporate committee meeting this week, now go to the public for feedback.
At the meeting deputy chief executive Ken Morris took a swipe at The News for its coverage on the future of community boards.
Morris said he felt The News “potentially misrepresented the situation to the public,” when it reported last week discussions were held in “secret.”
“Quite clearly there was never (any) intention for this to be a secretive process so yes there were certainly some workshops around this matter which enabled some free and frank pre discussion but of course there was always right from the start engagement with the community boards alongside those workshops,” he said.
“This was always going to be a public process and indeed it is.”
Several politicians who contacted The News after we revealed staff favoured getting rid of community boards, suggesting it was central government driving the proposal.
A spokesperson for Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta refuted that, saying the government did not decide whether councils had community boards or not.
“That is a matter for the council,” the spokesperson said.
Te Awamutu councillor Marcus Gower said in the meeting he was disappointed the public were not at the workshop as councillors had a “very robust discussion” and the council was now getting a boiled down version of what was discussed.
Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said due to the publicity last week, the community told her they wanted community boards to stay and that is the proposal she felt should go out.
The public will consider the following representation changes:
- Combine most of the current Pirongia ward with Kakepuku and move part of the Te Awamutu ward into the new Pirongia Kakepuku ward with two councillors (down from three)
- Extend the Maungatautari ward to include Kaipaki and continue with one councillor
- Extend the Cambridge ward to Fencourt Road and Hautapu with four councillors (down from five)
- Te Awamutu ward to have three councillors (down from four)
- Retain two community boards in Te Awamutu and Cambridge with boundary changes
The changes recommended follow the decision in May to establish a district-wide Māori ward.
Councillor Susan O’Regan, whose Kakepuku ward would be absorbed into the Pirongia ward under the proposal and was one of three committee members to vote against it, said she was disappointed at the recommendation.
“I just want to express my disappointment that we will likely take a path which will not spark conversations in our communities about the need for effective and meaningful representation at that level. I’m disappointed we don’t get the opportunity to thrash out with our communities the benefits we could find in alternative arrangements.”
The others against the proposal were Marcus Gower and Bronwyn Koroheke.
Consultation starts on August 27 and closes on September 29 with submissions heard on October 12.