Residents reject bid to disband the board

A recommendation to disband the Wanaka Community Board has been overwhelmingly rejected by Upper Clutha residents.

An independent advisory group was tasked by the Queenstown Lakes District Council to review representation across the district and recommended no community boards and the creation of four new wards with four councillors representing each.

Council passed the group’s recommendation, with an amendment to retain an Arrowtown councillor, at the end of June and community consultation followed.

At a meeting of the Wanaka Community Board yesterday, electoral officer Jane Robertson gave a "snapshot" of the results.

She said of the 301 submissions received, 73% were from the Upper Clutha, 16% were from Arrowtown, 6% were from Queenstown Wakatipu and 5% were from out of town.

Of the 201 submissions received in support of retaining the Wanaka Community Board, 185 submitters (or 92%) were from the Upper Clutha, she said.

"They [submitters] asserted things like ‘Wanaka is a distinct community’, ‘there is a perception of a Queenstown bias’ and ‘Wanaka is not currently equally represented’.

She said there were also comments such as "the district should have more [community] boards" and "the Wanaka Community Board should only have one councillor representative".

Ms Robertson said the council hoped to publicly release all the submissions early next week.

Hearings would then be held in Queenstown on August 26 and Wanaka on August 27 with all councillors in attendance, she said.

Results of a survey of Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce members on the representative advisory board recommendations were also released yesterday and 72% were not in favour of disbanding the community board.

Chairman Andrew Howard told members those who responded had generally found the way council posed the questions to be "confusing".

"Specifically regarding whether Wanaka should increase its representation from three (councillors) to four and whether this is proposed instead of, or as well as maintaining the Wanaka Community Board," Mr Howard said.

Wanaka Community Board chairman Barry Bruce said council was sent a "robust signal" to retain the board. There was still a process to go through "but I am very, very hopeful that we can retain and strengthen the role of the community board."

Ms Robertson said a report would be prepared and councillors would vote on recommendations on September 16.

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