We are required by law to review our ‘representation arrangements’ at least every six years to ensure our community is fairly and effectively represented. This includes reviewing things like the number of Councillors and wards we have, whether each Councillor represents roughly the same number of people in the district, and whether we should have community boards.
We recently asked for your feedback on our proposed representation – this is a summary of what you told us, and what our final proposal is.
What do we currently have?
We currently have one Mayor (who is elected by the whole district) and 11 Councillors - four representing the Matamata Ward, four representing the Morrinsville Ward and three representing the Te Aroha Ward. We do not have any community boards.
What was our initial proposal?
We proposed to stick with the same ward boundaries, the same number of Councillors, and to continue with no community boards for the next two Council elections (in 2019 and 2022).
One of the legal requirements is ensuring each Councillor represents roughly the same number of people in the district (known as the +/- 10% rule). Sticking with the same number of Councillors, means that each Councillor should represent between 2,842 – 3,473 people in our district. Matamata and Morrinsville Wards are within this range, however, the Te Aroha Ward is just outside this range (by 99 people per Councillor).
Why did we propose to stay the same?
- Despite being slightly outside the required range, we believe that our current Council structure effectively represents our community. Changing the ward boundaries to comply (to increase the Te Aroha Ward population) would divide some people from their community of interest (e.g. they may work/shop/identify with Matamata or Morrinsville, but be required to vote for Te Aroha Councillors), and would unite communities of interest with few commonalities.
- Feedback from the community in 2017 told us that the majority of respondents believe the ward they live in (84%) and that the current representation system (80%) fairly reflects their community.
- We don’t currently have community boards, and re-establishing them would add an extra layer of rep resentation that we believe is unnecessary and was supported by feedback from the community (64%).
What the community told us
We sought feedback from the community on our initial proposal from 20 June to 20 July 2018. In total we received 195 submissions:
- 160 submissions (82%) supported the initial proposal, of these:
- 128 submissions supported maintaining the status quo for Council but did not provide any further reasons/explanation
- 28 submissions provided various supportive comments
- Three submissions supported the initial proposal, and the re-establishment of Community Boards
- One submission asked for an increase in Maori representation
- 34 submissions (17%) opposed the initial proposal, of these:
- 11 submissions specifically asked that Community Board/s be re-established
- 10 submissions did not provide any reasons/explanation
- Seven submissions asked for an increase or a different split in the number of Councillors representing the Ward areas
- Four submissions provided comments on a range of issues, two of which included establishing Community Boards among other things
- One submission sought the introduction of a Maori Ward/Maori Mayor
- One submission indicated a supportive comment
- One submission (less than 1%) did not indicate support or opposition of the proposal and suggested that Councillor numbers should be based on rate revenue and/or have no wards.
What is our final proposal?
Council considered all these submissions on its initial proposal at a hearing (public meeting) on 15 August 2018 and decided on its final proposal (as required by the Local Electoral Act 2001).
Council’s final proposal is to stick with the current representation arrangements - which means our initial proposal remains unchanged.
You can view the full decision in the minutes from the 15 August Council meeting.
Reasons for our final proposal
The reasons for this decision (and not making changes as suggested in some submissions) are as follows:
- The clear majority of survey respondents and submissions supported the initial proposal and believe it will provide fair and effective representation.
- The existing ward structure is well understood by electors (as shown in the survey and submissions), and we are satisfied that the ward structure will continue to provide effective representation for communities of interest. \
- The non-compliance in the Te Aroha Ward (falling outside the allowable range
by 99 people per Councillor) is relatively minor. Altering the boundaries of the Te Aroha Ward to make it compliant would limit effective representation by dividing people from their community of interest and uniting communities of interest with few commonalities.
- We have decided to not establish any Community Boards as our 11 Councillors and Mayor effectively represent the community and are easily accessible. Community Boards would be a duplication of roles.
- We have previously considered whether to establish a Maori Ward and decided against this at this time, preferring to focus on other ways to involve Maori in decision-making.
Communities of interest
We used last year’s community survey to identify whether all the ‘communities of interest’ (the places people associate with) in the district are fairly represented. We have identified our three main towns (Morrinsville, Matamata and Te Aroha), small rural townships, rural, and Maori as our communities of interest. We believe that these are all effectively represented by our final proposal.
What happens next?
Any person who made a submission on our initial proposal can lodge an appeal against this final proposal. The appeal must include what you wish to appeal, and must relate to your submission. As there has been no change between Councils initial proposal and the final proposal, objections cannot be made.
After the appeal period closes we will send our final proposal, all of the 195 submissions received, any appeals received, and some other information to the Local Government Commission. We need to do this because of our minor non-compliance with the +/- 10% rule for the Te Aroha Ward. This means that the Local Government Commission will make the final decision on what our representation arrangements will be, and their decision will apply for the 2019 and 2022 Council elections. The Commission must make their decision before 11 April 2019.