Concern over time given to consider advice

A recent full-page advertisement placed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in the weekly...
A recent full-page advertisement placed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in the weekly Wanaka and Queenstown community newspapers regarding representation.IMAGE: QLDC
A member of the advisory group which recommended disestablishing the Wanaka Community Board says the town’s residents are not being given a proper chance to have a say.

Viv Milsom was one of three community representatives appointed to the seven-person independent advisory group tasked with reviewing future representation in the Queenstown Lakes district.

The group recommended the creation of three new wards with four councillors representing each ward, no longer having an Arrowtown ward and disestablishing community boards.

Ms Milsom said she was concerned about the length of time Wanaka residents were being given to have a say on the recommendation (July 5 to August 6).

She was also concerned at the council process.

A recent full-page advertisement placed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in the weekly Wanaka and Queenstown community newspapers left some believing the council was offering two recommendations, she said.

They were either three Wanaka ward councillors and a board, or four councillors and no Wanaka Community Board.

"Wanaka is entitled to a fourth councillor based on population growth. And this has nothing to do with either retaining or disestablishing the board — this is a quite different issue."

The Otago Daily Times asked council communications manager Naell Crosby-Roe if the advertisement was misleading and he agreed having the word "recommendations" in the advertisement could be confusing but there were no plans to change the wording.

Mr Crosby-Roe said Ms Milsom was wrong in assuming Wanaka would automatically get a new councillor at the end of the triennium as the decision to add a new councillor (and what the overall councillor numbers would be) would be made after the consultation process.

Council electoral officer and senior governance adviser Jane Robertson said if council voted to retain the status quo and not add extra councillors then the proposal would have to be referred to the Local Government Commission.

Due to population increases in both the Wanaka and Arrowtown wards, that arrangement would be "non-compliant with the Local Electoral Act", she said.

Ms Milsom said she was also concerned at how the advisory board’s recommendation was presented to councillors, as it was in a workshop and not in a written report.

The vote to recommend no community boards was "very divided", she said.

In comparison the vote to disband the Arrowtown ward as a separate ward was passed overwhelmingly by the advisory group, she said.

The council passed the advisory group’s recommendation but also added a last-minute amendment to retain the Arrowtown ward.

"They [the councillors] suggest they are following the advice of the independent advisory group but when it came to disestablishing the Arrowtown ward they have chosen not to follow the advice of the advisory group."

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