76 days ago

Hurunui council backs community board concept, but split on representation

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from Northern Outlook

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

A community board is being proposed for Hurunui’s south ward, including Amberley.

The Hurunui District Council accepted a proposal to create a South Ward Community Board as part of its representation review at a meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

It will now go out for public consultation on Monday, March 25.

The concept of a South Ward Community Board received unanimous support, but the late addition of splitting the south ward into two subdivisions created division and was supported by six councillors, with five opposed.

Governance team leader Michelle Stanley proposed community board membership comprising two members from the Amberley subdivision and three from the Kowai subdivision (the rest of the ward), as well as four councillors.

If successful, the community board would replace the existing south ward community committee, which comprises local appointees, for the 2025 and 2028 local government elections.

Councillor Pauline White, who represents the south ward, said she initially opposed the idea of a community board, but later changed her mind.

‘‘One of my initial fears was it could disempower the different voices we get at the community committee, but having the sub-divisions will help to overcome that.

‘‘If we put this out to our constituents they will submit and tell us whether this is the right thing.’’

Councillors Vanessa McPherson and Gary Jackson, who both serve the south ward, said they could not support splitting the ward.

Jackson said the south ward was ‘‘one community’’ and adding the subdivisions was ‘‘an added complication, which will confuse people’’.

McPherson said having the subdivisions would be ‘‘too limiting’’.

The Hurunui district already has one community board at Hanmer Springs and councillor Tom Davies, who lives in the village, said it worked well.

‘‘We all have slightly different interests and there is very strong debate at the meetings and outside of meetings.

‘‘In a small community differences tend to disappear and you come to a decision of what is best for the village.’’

Council staff estimated a South Ward Community Board would cost ratepayers around $50,000 a year, or about $25 per south ward ratepayer.

Councillors backed retaining the status quo of the mayor and 10 councillors representing the south, west and east wards, and the Hanmer Springs Community Board.

The remaining community committees in Amuri, Hurunui, Cheviot and Glenmark, will also be retained.

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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