No change in number of council seats

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Gore district councillors have voted to keep the same number of seats around the council table as the process of reviewing how residents are represented starts.

It is mandatory for councils to undertake a representation review every six years.

At present the council has 11 councillors and a mayor.

Councillors considered a report discussing the review by interim chief executive Stephen Parry at its meeting yesterday.

In the report Mr Parry said it could be argued the present number of councillors was a little high, given the population of the district was about 13,000.

Mr Parry recommended the two rural wards be amalgamated and represented by two councillors, with four instead of five councillors representing the Gore ward and the number of councillors at large being reduced from three to two.

The Mataura ward would continue to be represented by one councillor.

This would bring the number of councillors to nine.

Mr Parry said he understood the chief executive asking councillors to vote in favour of reducing the number of representatives was like asking "turkeys to vote for Christmas".

However, whatever councillors decided would be the first step in the review which would include public consultation, Mr Parry said.

During the discussion of the report, Cr Keith Hovell said it was important to think about workload.

As well as attending the monthly council meeting and the three council committees, councillors also sat on 28 other council and community committees and sub-committees.

Cr Neville Phillips said he had always believed there were too many councillors.

"I would like to see about five and then you will get some work done."

Cr Andy Fraser said he was in favour of the status quo.

Prior to being elected he underestimated the amount of time council business would take.

Cr Joe Stringer was undecided about reducing councillors.

"I still like the fact that having 11 people we’ve got more reach into the community."

When councillors voted they passed all of the recommendations in Mr Parry’s report except for reducing the number of councillors in the Gore and at large wards.

Cr Phillips and Mayor Ben Bell opposed keeping the number of councillors the same.