A revolution from within

EDITORIAL

The extraordinary full council meeting held yesterday to hear submissions and consider its representation review reached an extraordinary outcome, and the 11 councillors involved deserve congratulations and thanks.

In a methodical, informed and collegial atmosphere, councillors — with able staff assistance and well-chaired by deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz — worked diligently through the issues and submission points. Their conclusion represents what will be the biggest change in local government arrangements since the amalgamated Gisborne District Council was formed in 1989.

The proposal recommended by the council yesterday, for a cut from 13 now to 8-10 councillors, voted by the district at-large and supported by three community boards, would modernise local government in this district. It is a vast improvement on the initial proposal put out for consultation — which added a city councillor and adjusted rural ward boundaries in a tweaking and worsening of the status quo.

Council staff will now add detail to the proposal to go to a full council meeting next Thursday, where it will likely face a spirited rearguard action as rural councillors Pat Seymour and Graeme Thomson join the debate. The unanimous nature of the recommendation from yesterday’s meeting (with the probable exception of fellow rural councillor Bill Burdett, who did indicate opposition at one stage), means rather than an uphill battle, they will have a mountain to climb.

Their main concern, which drove the initial proposal, was the continuation of effective rural and East Coast representation.

The crux of yesterday’s about-turn was unanimous agreement that councillor numbers should be reduced, not increased. Once that decision was made, they then looked to make the numbers work within a ward structure.

It was the news from staff after a lunch break, that the numbers would not be compliant, which brought a realisation around the table that community boards would be the best way to deliver effective rural and East Coast representation. Hopefully the rural councillors will accept this, and work towards creating a community board structure that ensures it.

The extraordinary full council meeting held yesterday to hear submissions and consider its representation review reached an extraordinary outcome, and the 11 councillors involved deserve congratulations and thanks.

In a methodical, informed and collegial atmosphere, councillors — with able staff assistance and well-chaired by deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz — worked diligently through the issues and submission points. Their conclusion represents what will be the biggest change in local government arrangements since the amalgamated Gisborne District Council was formed in 1989.

The proposal recommended by the council yesterday, for a cut from 13 now to 8-10 councillors, voted by the district at-large and supported by three community boards, would modernise local government in this district. It is a vast improvement on the initial proposal put out for consultation — which added a city councillor and adjusted rural ward boundaries in a tweaking and worsening of the status quo.

Council staff will now add detail to the proposal to go to a full council meeting next Thursday, where it will likely face a spirited rearguard action as rural councillors Pat Seymour and Graeme Thomson join the debate. The unanimous nature of the recommendation from yesterday’s meeting (with the probable exception of fellow rural councillor Bill Burdett, who did indicate opposition at one stage), means rather than an uphill battle, they will have a mountain to climb.

Their main concern, which drove the initial proposal, was the continuation of effective rural and East Coast representation.

The crux of yesterday’s about-turn was unanimous agreement that councillor numbers should be reduced, not increased. Once that decision was made, they then looked to make the numbers work within a ward structure.

It was the news from staff after a lunch break, that the numbers would not be compliant, which brought a realisation around the table that community boards would be the best way to deliver effective rural and East Coast representation. Hopefully the rural councillors will accept this, and work towards creating a community board structure that ensures it.

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