Western Bay council mulls meetings shakeup in pitch for candidates
Western Bay of Plenty District Council is looking at its meeting schedule to potentially attract more candidates for election. As part of Generation Change/he panoni a¯ reanga, the council is starting a conversation on what changes would allow a more diverse range of people to become a councillor. Council CEO John Holyoake says to achieve diversity, changes to the council operating system are needed. Traditionally, council meetings begin at 9.30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays and are held at the council chamber at Barkes Corner. “It is obvious the . . . model doesn’t work for the majority of people who have fulltime jobs or other daytime commitments,” he says. “We appreciate not everyone can get away from work or pay for childcare, but we can’t expect different people to stand if we are excluding them with these restrictions. “We want to talk about ways that we could change the model to allow people from all walks of life to stand for council. Whether retired or semiretired, tangata whenua, a businessperson . . . or university student, everyone deserves the right to represent their community.” Every three years the newly elected council sets the meeting structure — times, duration and frequency — but John hopes having the ko¯ rero now on what a different model could look like might see a new structure voted in by this year’s incoming council. Options include: ■ Meetings running at night after work (from 7pm) ■ Meeting duration to be restricted to two hours ■ Meetings one day a month — running committees back to back rather than on different days ■ Setting a limit of meetings each month ■ Ability to be in person at council chambers or remotely from home “It’s about thinking differently because having different voices around the table makes for more balanced decision-making. “But to achieve this there needs to be more flexibility and accessibility for our new councillors. Regardless of whether you have a fulltime job or other commitments, we want to work with you to make it easier for you to sit on council by removing barriers and looking at new ways of running things. “We’re not making any promises, rather acknowledging we need to change too, and here’s some ways we could potentially do this by working together.” Candidate nominations open on July 15 and close at noon on August 12. Voting documents will be delivered between September 16-21 and voting closes at noon on October 8, with preliminary results announced mid-afternoon the same day.