District Council of Mallala’s lengthy, expensive and drawn-out Elector Representation Review has finally come to a conclusion, with councillors opting to revert back to a previously proposed three-ward model following a meeting on Monday night.
The review has been a contentious issue for both councillors and residents, with an independent consultant earlier in the year putting forward a number of models for council to consider.
First option for DCM councillors to consider was to have no wards and nine councillors, plus a mayor elected by the community; the alternative was three wards comprising three representatives for each ward and a mayor elected by the community.
Each option would see the total number of councillors reduced from 11 to 10.
At council’s April 22 meeting councillors voted in favour of keeping the ward structure.
However, following community consultation indicating support was for no wards, this decision was overturned at its June 24 meeting and community consultation was again sought, this time on abolishing wards altogether.
DCM chief executive officer, Charles Mansueto, said at the time, the decision reflected councillors’ concerns the proposed three-ward model was not fair.
“There’s pros and cons on each model,” Mr Mansueto had said.
“But it really comes down to what the electors think is a fair representation for the district.
“The proposed Mallala/Dublin ward was still too big on its own, in terms of area, for three councillors to cover.
“Also, because of the proposed growth in Two Wells it would be very likely council would have to undertake another electoral review in two or three years time if they persisted with a ward structure.”
But at Monday night’s meeting councillors again changed their mind, preferring to vote in favour of a motion put forward by Cr Daniele in support of the three-ward option.
Cr Daniele said having represented the community on council for more than 35 years it was important for residents to know who to go to in their area with council-related concerns.
“If you have got a problem you go to the people you know,” he told his fellow councillors.
“I’ve been representing the people of Two Wells for almost 38 years (and) I believe in what I’m doing, to improve the area where I live.
“That’s where you get the best representation, where you know the people you are representing, that’s why I believe wards should remain.” Cr Keen seconded the motion.
Cr Strudwicke voted in favour of the motion but had this to say:
“I think we have to go with the community with what they say, but I think it’s a really unsatisfactory model and it’s going to unfairly disadvantage the councillors in the north in terms of the area that they have to represent.”
The motion was passed, with Cr Wasley calling a division. He was the only councillor to vote against the motion.
Cr Picard was absent for the meeting.
DCM chief executive officer, Charles Mansueto, said following advice from the consultant, council would not have to go to public consultation again with this option as it has already been out to the community.
“It’s good that the process as been finalised and things can be set in place for the November 2014 elections,” Mr Mansueto said.
So, to spell it out – DCM will adopt a three- ward structure at the 2014 elections to be held in November. Each ward will comprise three councillors.
The community will elect the mayor and the new ward names will be Lewiston, Two Wells and Mallala/Dublin.
The review has taken months and cost council more than $40,000.