Wānaka Sun       

Cocks backs his old board

Posted at 12:27pm Thursday 26 Aug, 2021

Former Queenstown deputy mayor Lyal Cocks has made an impassioned plea for the Wānaka Community Board to be retained. Mr Cocks was one of about 300 people who made submissions on the council's representation plans which recommend an increase in district councillor numbers, some ward boundary changes and the axing of Wānaka's board. The plan to do away with the board has attracted significant opposition in Wānaka and more than 70 per cent of submissions opposed the idea. Submissions will be heard by Zoom by the council at hearings this week-Thursday and Friday. The content of the submissions were released for the first time on Monday when the agenda was released. It is available at“...I strongly oppose the proposal to not retain the Wānaka Community Board (WCB) and therefore my main focus is on this point,” Mr Cocks said in the opening of a 1500 word defence of the board. “My submission is based on the Local Government Commission Guidelines, my experience as a Community Board Member for 12 years (six as Chair) andon the evidence that the WCB structure can work very effectively.” He said the Upper Clutha was a distinct community of interest “and most people will agree it is noticeably different to Queenstown”

 

“There should therefore be no argument that the Wānaka Ward is a distinct and independent Community of Interest. There are strong geographical boundaries such as the Crown Range Pass to the south and the Haast Pass to the north. Wānaka provides goods and services for ordinary everyday existence and there is a strong sense of belonging,” he said. “The Wakatipu and Wānaka Wards are about the same size in area and have a similar number and dispersal of communities throughout respective wards. “Eight councillors in the Wakatipu Ward are likely to be able to provide the expected effective representation throughout their Wards but to expect four councillors in the Wānaka Ward to cover the same size area and provide the same access to their constituents is neither reasonable nor logical.” He said the Wānaka Board's seven members provided effective presentation. Because they were closer to communities and neighbourhoods, community boards had more information about local issues and “may be better informed than the Council as a whole”. Without a Community Board, the Wānaka Ward population would no longer see Wānaka Ward issues being decided locally, he said. Mr Cocks said he supported 12 councillors across four Wards, and one community board in the Wānaka Ward, consisting of four elected members and three appointed Councillors.

 

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