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Christchurch City Council Media Release Friday 23 July 1999

Council seeks views on proposed changes to electoral system

The introduction of a new central city ward is one of several proposed changes to be discussed at public meetings next week.

Earlier this year three independent Commissioners were appointed to consider options for improvement to our local body electoral system.

Public Meetings

Ward Boundaries and Boards

Monday 26 July 7.00pm Beckenham Service Centre
66 Colombo Street
Monday 26 July 7.00pm Sockburn Service Centre
149 Main South Road
Tuesday 27 July 7.00pm Papanui Service Centre
Cnr Langdons Road & Restell Street
Tuesday 27 July 7.00pm Civic Offices, First Floor,
No 2 Committee Room
163-173 Tuam Street
Tuesday 27 July 7.00pm Shirley Service Centre
36 Marshland Road
Wednesday 28 July 7.00pm Linwood Service Centre
180 Smith Street
Wednesday 28 July 7.00pm Fendalton Service Centre
Cnr Jeffreys & Clyde Roads

Outline of Review Process

In March this year the City Council appointed three Commissioners. Malcolm Douglass, (town planning consultant), Jan McLauchlan, (manager, Safer Community Council), and Alan McRobie, (retired Political Science lecturer), undertook an independent study of the communities of interest, community areas and Community Boards. Their brief was to make recommendations on future options for Council electoral boundaries and ward arrangements.

After presenting a preliminary report in May the Commissioners undertook further consultation with Councillors and Community Board members before presenting their recommendations at the end of June. Their report is now being used as the basis for consultation with Christchurch residents.

The Commissioners’ work and public views will be considered by City Councillors on 26 August. The Council aims to determine its policy on the community areas and wards review and forward a submission to the Local Government Commission at that time.

The Local Government Act 1974 requires that the boundaries ‘provide for the effective representation of communities of interest’. Electors must have fair representation having regard to the population of every constituency or ward… and if the circumstances so require, the rateable, values, area or other relevant characteristics. No definition is given for effective representation, fair representation or communities of interest.

At the meetings participants will be asked to compare the proposal with the current pattern of ward and community boundaries and give the Council feedback as to which they prefer and why.

Ward boundaries for the six existing community areas were established in 1989 during the amalgamation of local councils. Although having a similar population, the current community areas do not always reflect communities of interest well, say the Commissioners.

The Local Commissioners have suggested names for the new electoral areas. The five suburban community names suggested are:– Sockburn, Papanui, Pegasus, Heathcote and Ferrymead, with the central ward as Hagley.

The changes, if supported by the public and Councillors, would be in place for the next local body elections in 2001.

Commission chairman Malcolm Douglass says the proposal is a refinement of the present system and retains the basic framework of wards and community areas which is widely supported.

The Commissioners analysed six different boundary options before recommending a "hub and spokes" model. Ten suburban wards would be paired, similar to the current arrangement, to make five community areas. They would surround a central/inner City ward which would also form a community by itself. Each of the 11 wards (ten suburban, one central) would elect two Councillors.

At the next tier of representation, the central ward would elect six Community Board members, while all other wards would each have three Community Board members. In this way each Community Board would have six directly elected members.

Under the Commissioners’ preferred option, the Council would have 22 Councillors and 36 Community Board members. At present Christchurch residents and ratepayers are represented by 24 Councillors and 36 Community Board members.

All five proposed suburban community areas have a full range of rural, residential, retail, industrial, community and recreational activities, according to the Commissioners. Community area boundaries are, for the most part, easily recognisable, co-inciding with permanent, natural, transport and physical boundaries and would remain constant in the future. The Commissioners say their recommendations are designed to provide stability and accommodate future growth anticipated over the next 12 to 15 years or longer.

Existing framework for local electoral boundaries

The Christchurch City Council is currently divided into 12 wards for electoral purposes. Two Councillors and three Community Board members are elected from each ward. The 12 wards are paired to form six Community Boards: Hagley/Ferrymead, Burwood/Pegasus, Fendalton/Waimairi, Shirley/Papanui, Spreydon/Heathcote and Riccarton/Wigram. Each Community Board comprises six Community Board members and three Councillors appointed by the Council following the triennial election. These boundaries have been used (with minor alterations) since 1989.

Boundaries: drawing the Line

The Hagley, or City Centre area, is bounded by the railway line along the south and extends to the Riccarton railway in the west, Rugby Street, Canon Street and the North Avon Road in the north and Linwood Avenue/Olliviers Road/Ensors Road in the east.

The boundary between Pegasus and Papanui is the western edge of the Marshlands rural area along the line of the rural limited access length of the proposed northern arterial.

The boundary between Papanui and Sockburn lies along Fendalton Road/Memorial Avenue, both of which are major arterial roads without significant retail, commercial or industrial activities.

The boundary between Sockburn and Heathcote is along the southern edge of the Wigram airfield land where the southern arterial will pass to Springs Road. These major arterial limited access roads are planned to remain as clear traffic throughways in the future.

The Heathcote boundary is the railway to the Heathcote River and then up Rapaki track. The Halswell area is included in Heathcote.

Ferrymead extends from the Lyttelton railway in the south to the Avon River in the north and embraces Mount Pleasant and Sumner to Godley Head in the east. The Lyttelton area could be included in Ferrymead for the election of that area’s members to Council if amalgamation with Banks Peninsula goes ahead.

Why a review?

The Christchurch City Council initiated the review to obtain independent advice on appropriate boundaries for wards for community areas and wards for the Council election in 2001. The Local Government Commission had requested a review which could be considered as part of the Commission’s proposal to merge Banks Peninsula District and the present Christchurch City in a new city. During the review the Commission indicated that any proposals for the year 2001 should be prepared within the existing statutory framework.

Why not propose the tweaked version of the present system?

This version was tested after the first round of submissions. It was found that it would cut across some significant areas of community interest. Also, because of continuing population changes it will need to be amended in the future. The present wards do not reflect communities of interest well.

What are ‘communities of interest’?

These are emphasised but not defined in the Local Government Act 1974. The Commissioners state that as far as possible the definition of geographic community areas for local government should reflect the characteristics, physical boundaries, centres of activity and interest and provide a sense of belonging for residents. Their review included a study of physical, natural, urban development and planning factors as well as demographic, social, economic and ethnic considerations. The resulting community areas coincide with neighbourhood groupings, community facilities, major shopping catchments and high school catchment areas.

Why have a central ward?

To meet the need for a strong advocate for present and future residents and other community participants in the central city area. This is a distinct community of interest that is not clearly defined in the present Community Board system. The City Council has not in the past had a positive and ongoing consultation framework with people who live and work in the City.

How were names for community areas and wards chosen?

The names are suggestions only to help identify areas and make maps more easily understood. The suggested names avoid those used for national and regional elections. Existing names of community areas and wards have been used where possible. New ward names including Brighton, Northcote, Cashmere, Avon and Mount Pleasant are all central to the proposed wards. The names must be considered by all interested parties and determined by the Council.

Why has a variation of plus or minus 10 per cent been chosen for the maximum and minimum population range?

This figure provides sufficient flexibility to reflect community area definition and needs while still ensuring equality of representation.

Has there been pressure to reduce the number of Councillors?

While there have been suggestions (from the Local Government Commission) that the number of Councillors could be reduced from 24 to 18, this investigation first established community boundaries then looked at the number of Councillors needed. It arrives at the optimum number of 22 Councillors.

Who determines the number of Community Boards

Communities are constituted by the Local Government Commission, or by the Council with the prior consent of the Commission. Community Board functions and membership are decided by the Council.

Does this proposal disrupt many residents’ groups?

No. Only 11 out of 83 residents groups will have a Community Board boundary line drawn through their areas. These groups can still operate as before and work with either one or two Community Boards in a collaborative way as they choose.

How will Canterbury Regional Councillors be elected?

While a four-way split of two members per constituency is not possible, the following arrangement would provide very satisfactory representation:

Pegasus and Papanui – 3 members

Sockburn and Heathcote – 3 members

Hagley and Ferrymead – 2 members

How does the proposal affect the boundaries of the Police and WINZ?

The Police may choose to make some administrative changes. Their five stations operate within the proposed Community Board boundaries. Some station staff may have to work in collaboration with two Community Boards, depending on how the Police decide on their future boundaries. The central ward suits the Police because a great deal of work occurs in that area. Other agencies including WINZ have not yet changed their boundaries to match Council boundaries so they will be unaffected.

Why can’t all Councillors be included on Community Boards?

The Local Government Act has a formula of a maximum of one Councillor for two Board members.

Why include the Banks Peninsula District?

Since amalgamation is a possibility, the Banks Peninsula area was taken into account to establish a preferred electoral arrangement with the rest of Christchurch. 

Why link Lyttelton to Ferrymead?

There is considerable community of interest linking the Lyttelton Harbour Basin and Christchurch, in particular the south-east area and the central City. If amalgamation goes ahead, Lyttelton will best be served by integration of its community of interest with the Ferrymead community and the election of Councillors for an amended Mt Pleasant ward.

For further information

Max Robertson 03 371-1533
Council Secretary
See the full report
Christchurch City Council Community Areas and Wards
A report on future options to Christchurch City Council
21 June 1999


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