On April 8, the Local Government Commission released their decision on the WBPDC Representation review.

In a word: Status quo. (Well, OK, two words)

The Commission’s “Determination of representation arrangements to apply for the election of Western Bay of Plenty District Council to be held on 12 October 2019” is a word for word cut and paste from the Commission’s “Determination of representation arrangements to apply for the election of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council to be held on 12 October 2013”

The only difference being the numbering of plans delineating boundaries to accommodate the minor boundary change between the Kaimai and Katikati Wards.

That means that the Council proposal to disestablish the Omokoroa Community Board has been overturned and the Omokoroa Community Board remains with its current membership structure and current boundary.

The mixed arrangement of community boards and community councillor committees that was proposed by Council was a messy compromise and thus this outcome is not unexpected.

The Commission stated:

The establishment of ward/community committees of any form, unlike community boards, is not a matter that comes within the scope of a representation review. Accordingly, we are not able to make any determination in respect of the council’s proposed ward councillor committees. These are matters for the council to consider further and on which to make recommendations to the incoming council following the October elections.

However, we note the appellants’ concerns about the committees and, while with one exception they are no longer proposed as replacements for the existing community boards, we are also unclear about their comparative status and role vis-à-vis the current community boards. We did seek some more information about the proposed committees from the council including such matters as proposed delegations. We remain unclear and, in the case of the proposed replacement of Omokoroa Community Board, unconvinced an all of Kaimai Ward committee would provide effective representation for the Omokoroa community.

Accordingly we have determined that the Omokoroa Community Board will be retained, with its current membership, alongside the other four existing community boards which will also retain their current membership.

We suggest the council gives further consideration to the matter of local community representation across Western Bay of Plenty District and what objectives it is wishing to achieve.