2015 Review of representation arrangements – Local Government Commission's decision
On 27 August 2015 Council met to consider submissions and make a decision about the final proposal for representation arrangements for the 2016 local body elections.
This decision marked another milestone in the representation review process which began in December 2014, when Council convened a Working Party to manage the preconsultation phase. This phase culminated with Council receiving the recommendations of the Working Party on 18 June and issuing an initial proposal. Submissions on the initial proposal were invited with a deadline of 31 July. Ten submissions were received, and three submitters heard on 11 August. Any amendments to Council’s initial proposal could only be made in the light of submissions.
A link to the Council report on the final proposal is here.
Appendices to this report are available to view from agenda for the 27 August 2015 meeting here.
In summary Council’s final proposal consists of:
- A Mayor and 10 Councillors
- Retention of the mixed system of election – 5 Councillors to be elected on a Districtwide basis, and 5 elected from 4 Wards
- Retention of the current 4 Community Boards, with 4 elected members per board and the Ward Councillors appointed back to their respective Boards.
- In addition Council also decided to adjust the Waikanae/Ōtaki Ward boundary so that it brought all of Huia Street, Reikorangi and the Waikanae Downs area into the Waikanae Ward/Community Board areas.
The final proposal was publicly notified and this opened a period when the community could lodge appeals or objections to the final proposal. No appeals or objections were received but because the Council's final proposal included a non-compliant boundary change the matter had to be referred to the Local Government Commission (LGC) for a final decision. The LGC has now released its determination, which can be read here . In brief the LGC upheld the Council's final proposal.
New maps showing the altered boundaries will be available in due course once they have been prepared and certified by the Surveyor-General.
For the 27 August meeting resolutions about the final proposal click here.
BACKGROUND TO THE REVIEW
The Local Electoral Act 2001 requires every council to review its representation arrangements at least once every six years, and the reviews are a key lynchpin of the democratic process.
The review involves consulting with the community on the number of councillors, how they should be elected (by ward, by districtwide, or both), and whether community boards are still needed.
During March to April the council promoted the review via a series of newspaper articles, information on the website, Facebook page, and four public workshops hosted by community boards.
This was an effort to provide information about what the review was all about, and to give the public the opportunity to provide feedback and ideas.
The informal phase was managed through a working party, which made recommendations to council on 18 June on a couple of options for representation arrangements.
Council adopted its initial proposal largely retaining the status quo with one boundary adjustment. The reasons the council decided to go with the status quo included the fact that there had been no public call for change, the current system was familiar to voters and appeared to be working well for a district of this size, and helped provide a choice of elected member to approach.
The mixed system of representation of having wards and districtwide councillors provided an overview of the district’s developmental issues, while ward councillors together with community boards helped support avenues for addressing local grassroots issues.
The current mixed system of representation was first decided by the Local Government Commission in 2004 and reaffirmed in its Determination in 2010 after the 2009 Review. To read this Determination please click here.
For further enquiries please contact Vyvien Starbuck-Maffey, Democracy Services Manager on (04) 296 4700.
What is a representation review?
Under the provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001, every six years every council in New Zealand has to review the way its elected representatives – councillors - are chosen by you, the community. Our last review was in 2009 and at the end of the process, the Local Government Commission (LGC) decided on the structure we had for the 2013 elections. Since then the Kāpiti Coast has changed and grown in so many different ways. Do we still have the right electoral structure and the right number of local representatives?
Why is the review important?
It gives council the opportunity to ask you about the best way to achieve fair and effective representation for all voters at the next local body elections.
What kind of issues will be covered in the review?
We have to consider a number of key factors:
- communities of interest
- effective representation of these communities
- fair representation of electors
The review must also include consideration of whether or not there is a continuing role for community boards in the district.
Communities of interest
How do we identify ourselves as members of a community or communities? Some factors to think about might be:
Do you feel a sense of belonging to a distinct geographic area (areas bounded by hills or rivers for example)?
Are there similar social or economic activities carried out in the area?
Are there similar demographic, socio-economic, and/or ethnic characteristics?
What about a distinct local history?
The role of local iwi, including placement of marae?
Are there shared facilities in an area such as schools, shops, cultural/recreational facilities, transport links/services, medical services?
How many councillors?
The law allows councils to have between 5 and 29 councillors. Kāpiti Coast District Council currently has a mayor and 10 councillors. Is this too many? Too few? Can electors easily contact their local councillor? Does the councillor have enough time to attend meetings and to effectively represent the views of their constituents?
How do elections work?
How should councillors be elected to ensure effective representation of identified communities? Some councils elect their representatives through a ‘ward’ structure (a ward is a division of a district.) Others elect their councillors on a district-wide or ‘at large’ structure.
A third option is a ‘mixed system’ such as ours. We have both ward councillors and districtwide councillors. Five of our 10 councillors are elected on a ward basis, and five are elected on a districtwide basis. We have four wards: Paekākāriki-Raumati, Paraparaumu, Waikanae, and Ōtaki, each represented by one councillor, except for the Paraparaumu Ward which has two councillors as it represents a larger population.
The division of an area into wards must meet a mathematical formula which provides approximate population equality per councillor (referred to as the ‘plus or minus ten percent rule’ – the relevant clause of the Local Electoral Act is 19V)
It’s also desirable that ward boundaries coincide wherever possible with community board boundaries.
To view current ward boundaries please click here.
Should we have community boards?
The review must also consider whether community boards are needed, and if so, how many members should each board have? (within legal limits of between four and 12 elected members).
Community boards advocate on behalf of their communities and deal with a number of delegated and local responsibilities (such as road naming and grant allocation).
We currently have four community boards: Paekākāriki, Paraparaumu-Raumati, Waikanae, and Ōtaki. Each has four elected members and each Ward Councillor is appointed back to their respective ward. Because it represents the largest number of voters, the Paraparaumu-Raumati Community Board includes the two Ward Councillors, bringing its membership to six.
To view current community board boundaries please click here.
Wherever possible ward and community board boundaries should coincide. For a map showing both boundaries together please click here.
For further information you can go to the Local Government Commission website.
Contact: Vyvien Starbuck-Maffey, Democracy Services Manager Tel 027 555 4728