Community boards under review

Community boards need to improve their performances in Te Awamutu and Cambridge and the best way to ensure that is to review what their roles and functions are, a Waipā council committee has decided.

Community Board chairs Ange Holt and Sue Milner have both welcomed the move saying a lot of their boards’ work goes unnoticed and they were often ignored.

“Community boards are about the people, we care about our communities and people need to know that,” said Milner.

Waipā District Council’s Finance and Corporate committee voted to retain boards this week and accepted nine other recommendations which included reducing the number of councillors from 13 to 10 and making several boundary changes.

Forty-nine submissions were received.

While the boards would remain, some hard questions had to be asked about them, said Mike Pettit.

“I don’t think we should be axing them, but I do not think they should be going on in their current state.”

Council should decide what it wanted community boards to deliver for their communities, he said.

The News exclusively revealed in August that council favoured abolishing community boards in favour of appointed committees.

Holt, who let the cat out of the bag in her monthly report, said she had no regrets about making the plans public.

She welcomed the opportunity to have the role and functions of boards reviewed.

Councillor Clare St Pierre said she felt council staff did not see community boards as a vehicle to do their consultation through.

“I’m not surprised we don’t think they’re doing anything.

”It was time for the council to start giving community boards their attention, she said.

Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said she wanted to retain community boards.

“I would like to see community boards be elected and that way they have a mandate from the community.

”Two councillors were unconvinced by the arguments to retain boards.

Susan O’Regan and Marcus Gower voted for them to be scrapped.

O’Regan, who has consistently questioned community boards’ roles, said it was good to hear other councillors accepted the current structure was not working.

“My preference would be to remove the structures of the community boards and do the work leading up to the next election.

”The committee directed staff to undertake a review of the role and functions of community board.

The scope and parameters of the review would be agreed by the Finance and Corporate committee before the work begins.

It would be completed by September next year, weeks before the local body election.

Milner said that would provide clear guidance for potential candidates.

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