A proposal for a local board in Golden Bay could open the door for more representation across the district, including in Richmond.
Richmond resident Robin Schiff and Richmond Ward Councillor Dana Wensley say that public support from across the district for a Golden Bay local board is good news for a Richmond Local Board or Community Board.
Public submissions on the option to create a local board in Golden Bay show that the majority are in favour. Out of 581 submissions, 381 showed support for a local board in just Golden Bay, or for Golden Bay and elsewhere in Tasman. A local board would give Golden Bay more autonomy from the Tasman District Council.
Cr Wensley says that she’s hopeful that the positive public response that the Local Government commission received means more representation for Richmond.
“I’d be concerned if Golden Bay got a local board and we got nothing – there would be a greater imbalance in representation and advocacy. It has opened the door
Cr Wensley and Robin have both been campaigning for over some time, more representation for Richmond.
Dana says that Richmond misses out at council because there isn’t an organised community voice like community boards in other parts of the district, and that projects are more likely to be prioritised by council if there is a strong community backing.
“It’s the advocacy that is lacking in Richmond,” Dana says.
“That is why the Champion Road underpass was dropped, there was no advocacy from the community for that. The money for it was in the term, and when push came to shove, there was a little bit of a cost blowout and the project was scrapped. There was no consultation with the community about that.”
Other parts of the district with community boards have strong advocacy, and Richmond is at a huge disadvantage, Robin says.
“Richmond has a very poor elected member to population ratio,” she says.
Richmond has a population of 15,000 people. It has four counsellors, and no other elected members such as a community board. Meanwhile, Motueka has a population of 11,000, and three counsellors and a four member community board.
“The people of Richmond deserve substantially better representation and a better deal than we are getting currently,” Robin says.
Hearings were held in Richmond on September 9, and the Local Government Commission will make a decision about representation around the district before Christmas, including the option for a Golden Bay Local Board and other local boards and community boards around the country.