Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Appeal heard on councillor numbers

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A decision on changes to the Rotorua Lakes Council's representation arrangements for the next six years should be made in the coming weeks.

Five appeals were lodged against the council's representation review decisions agreed to by councillors in December last year.

At the time the council agreed to reduce the number of councillors from 12 to 10, retain the "at large" voting system, retain the Lakes Community Board - with the addition of Hamurana - and establish a second community board to represent the rural sector.

Rotorua residents had a month to appeal the decision to the Local Government Commission.

Appealing the decision at a hearing in the council chamber yesterday were the Rotorua Lakes Community Board, Federated Farmers, the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group, and residents Allan Estcourt and Stewart Graham.

The meeting was run by Representation Review Commission chairwoman and former Timaru mayor Janie Annear, along with commissioners Auckland-based barrister and solicitor Dr Pauline Kingi and Local Government Commission senior advisor Gavin Beattie.

Mrs Annear said the commission's decision would be made before April 10, "but could be released earlier".

Commissioners asked whether 10 councillors would be enough to represent the district, how effective the Lakes Community Board had been, if the council had considered a single transferable voting system, and if the rural sector could commit to a partnership with council.

Once the decision is released the changes will come into effect for the next local government election in October 2016.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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