The Dunedin City Council will consider switching to a
single city-wide ward and giving community boards more powers
after some voters complained of being disenfranchised, Dunedin
Mayor Dave Cull says.
Mr Cull told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had
heard directly from up to 30 people, mainly in the Waikouaiti
Coast-Chalmers ward, upset at being unable to vote for city
councillors in this year's election.
''They really resent not having a say on the whole of
council, when the vast bulk of the population do.''
As a result, he was ''really sympathetic'' to the idea of one
city-wide ward, and expected a proposal for change would be
considered by the incoming council.
Such a change would allow all voters to vote for all 14 city
councillors, he said.
Community boards could be handed extra powers to offset the
loss of local representation, for example by being authorised
to prioritise the spending of roading maintenance funding
allocated to their area by the council, he said.
Mr Cull was commenting after voters in the Waikouaiti
Coast-Chalmers ward were left with no say on who would
represent them for the next three years.
Incumbent Cr Andrew Noone was elected unopposed for the
ward's only seat, leaving voters in the ward able only to
influence the races for the Dunedin mayoralty and Chalmers
Voters in the Mosgiel-Taieri ward were asked to select two
councillors from just three candidates to represent their
interests, and opted for Cr Kate Wilson and newcomer Mike
The bulk of the council seats, 11 of the 14 up for grabs,
were taken by some of the 35 candidates contesting the
congested central ward.
Mr Cull said the existing arrangements were ''silly stuff'',
as councillors were elected to serve the entire city.
''The decisions that all of the central city ward councillors
make impact on Strath Taieri and Waikouaiti, but they're not
voted for by those people.
''That's a real contradiction.''
Change would bring its own challenges, not least being the
loss of local councillors representing the interests of less
populated areas, he conceded.
''It's representation versus giving everyone the same
It was likely any proposal for change would be considered at
annual plan time, which would trigger a public submissions
Any objections would mean the change would have to be
referred to the Local Government Commission.
The city's ward system last changed in early 2010, when the
commission - overruling a council recommendation for a single
city-wide ward - opted to replace the city's six wards with
one large urban ward and two rural wards.
Mr Cull said the council had decided not to pursue further
changes in the last term, so soon after the commission's
changes were implemented.
''But I get the feeling that we should address it again.''