Councillor suggests pruning number of seats

Ian Pottinger. PHOTO: Supplied
Ian Pottinger. PHOTO: Supplied
An Invercargill city councillor thinks the council should consider having two fewer representatives around the table.

During the first meeting of the year yesterday, councillors discussed a report about the council’s representation review, which all local authorities must undertake every six years.

Cr Ian Pottinger said it was the right time to consider the number of councillors on the council, which at present sits at 12.

"It seems to be the rule of thumb ... 5000 head of population per elected member ... If you do the sums, it would actually make 10 councillors for Invercargill.

"So I was just wondering, is 12 weighty for what we are trying to do here?"

He highlighted boards of companies kept the number quite tight for efficiency.

"Of course, democracy means a greater voice from the public, but it is something that I would like to hear views on moving forward with this topic."

Deputy electoral officer Michael Morris said the last representation review was conducted in 2015, and councillors seemed to want to follow the same approach with an election at large when electors were able to vote for all candidates and have a wider choice.

The council would also create an independent advisory panel with six members of the public and one representative from the council, who would be Cr Rebecca Amundsen, to give feedback to councillors on the matter.

This was expected to happen in May, with the review expected to be referred to the Local Government Commission for a decision in November.

During the meeting, Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt welcomed the two new appointees, Jeff Grant and Lindsay McKenzie, who would work with the council over the next six to 18 months to help improve its governance and long-term plan following an inquiry by the Department of Internal Affairs last year.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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