Wānaka Sun       

Board gets thumbs up

Posted at 12:56pm Friday 20 Aug, 2021 | By Lauren Prebble journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz

Barry Bruce knew “deep down” the vote would go the way he wanted. Wānaka residents have told the Queenstown Lakes District Council they want to keep their community board. Senior governance advisor Jane Robertson provided a breakdown of 301submissions on the council proposal to the Wānaka Community Board members last week part of as representation review the council is obliged to carry out. She also relayed comments from the public submissions. It showed that some of the reasons given to retain the board were that Wanaka was viewed as a distinct community of interest and that more autonomy from Queenstown was needed. While board chairman Bruce saw the result as ‘pleasing' he remains nervous about the council's decision. They will make a decision on September 16 after a submission hearing. “It's the first step but it's not a done deal” says Mr Bruce. The submission outcome didn't surprise Councillor Quentin Smith, who felt somewhat painted as the villain in the representation review saga. “It was not surprising and in some ways quite encouraging that there was some fight from the community for the board.” he said.

 

Councillor Smith called into question the effectiveness of the board-alongside Deputy Mayor Callum McLeod-during the public submission phase of the review. Both council members sit on the Wānaka  Community Board. “Things have been incredibly quiet on the board front recently with very limited fixtures and very light single item agendas,” says Councillor Smith. He believes there should be fixtures every week. “If the board is retained I hope that there is a good look at the effectiveness and structure of the board. A more effective board is a good outcome of the review. ”Once the council have made their final recommendation they present this to the local government commission. Councillor Smith says this stage can be treated as a ‘blank canvas'. With government making moves to centralise entities across the board Mr Bruce feels that community boards hold a grave importance for grassroots representation. A similar discussion began in Waipā's main centres of Cambridge and Te Awamutu last week after community newspapers, sisters to the Wānaka Sun, broke news that the Waipā District Council was considering dropping two community boards. One Waipā councillor suggested the Government could overrule council if they retained the status quo, but a spokesperson for Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that was not the intention. “Executive Government doesn't have a role in determining whether a particular council has community boards or not. That is a matter for the council. The Local Government Commission has a limited role to consider and determine appeals against a council decision not to constitute a community board,” the spokesperson said.

The issue has exposed some fractures in the relationship between the boards and councils in both Wānakaand  Waipā, but Barry Bruce believes his members are pragmatic people who can respect the process of democracy. He added though: “council would be wise to take on board the results of the submissions”.

 

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