Wards' abolition proposed

Dunedin city's three wards should be abolished and council candidates should vie for the votes of every resident, a team including Mayor Dave Cull has recommended.

Under the plan, the number of community boards would be cut from six to five, with fewer members on each board.

The representation review team announced its recommendations yesterday, including retaining the city's 14 councillors and one mayor.

The team will discuss its proposals with councillors on Monday.

Mr Cull said last night it would be ''inappropriate'' to comment on the recommendations before the meeting.

Dunedin city councillor Kate Wilson, of Middlemarch, said if the recommendation to have only one ward was approved it would become more expensive to electioneer.

''If you have smaller wards, it becomes a lot easier to be known.''

She wanted to hear from rural people about ''the lack of certainty'' of having a rural representative elected.

The team recommended several changes to community boards, such as establishing one board to cover the Strath Taieri and Taieri rural communities.

The boundaries of Chalmers, Otago Peninsula, Saddle Hill and Waikouaiti Coast community boards would be adjusted, and the number of elected members on each community board cut from six to four.

It recommended retaining a councillor on each community board.

Cr Wilson said she was ''intrigued'' with the idea of disestablishing the Mosgiel Taieri and and Strath Taieri community boards.

A new Rural Community Board would represent about 3000 people over a ''vast'' area.

Cr Wilson believed keeping a councillor appointed to a board was a good idea, because it aided information sharing between the council and boards.

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather declined last night to comment on the recommendation to disestablish his board and the area being ''absorbed'' in the Dunedin city catchment.

The board gave the Mosgiel Taieri community a way to ''keep the council on its toes'', he said.

Some Mosgiel Taieri residents would be pleased with the possibility of voting for 14 council candidates, rather than the status quo of voting for two.

''Others will look a bit deeper and say, well, if all 14 come from the centre of the city, we are still no better off - in fact, we are worse off - because before we were guaranteed two voices around the table.

''That may not be the case to come.''

He believed four board members was enough to represent about 3000 residents on the five proposed community boards - Chalmers, Otago Peninsula, Rural, Saddle Hill and Waikouaiti Coast.

''Four members would be adequate.''

Team chairwoman Assoc Prof Janine Hayward said in a statement yesterday she was ''grateful'' to those who participated in the process.

''It is heartening to see how highly people value our local democracy. We encourage everyone to continue to participate in the next phase of consultation.''

On Monday, the team would discuss the recommendations with the council and agree on a proposal for public consultation.

The other team members are Len Cook and Paulette Tamati-Elliffe.


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