OPINION: What’s Council’s problem with equal representation?

DEAR News Of The Area,

THE Coffs Harbour Local Government Area (LGA) stretches approximately 67km from Bonville in the south to Red Rock in the north and 45km west to Brooklana and Nana Glen.

For this 1,174 square kilometres we are represented by nine councillors.

But did you know that seven of the nine councillors live between the Big Windmill (Thompsons Road) and north of Woolgoolga, one in Brooklana and the last of the nine outside the Coffs Harbour LGA in Bellingen?

What this highlights is that the southern communities of Bonville, Boambee, Toormina and Sawtell have no councillors living in their communities, understanding and representing the needs of these communities.

In contrast the communities comprising Coffs Harbour, Korora, Emerald Beach, Woolgoolga and north to Red Rock are represented by seven Councillors.

You could say one for every locality!

In an attempt to address this unequal representation, Cr Pryce, supported by Cr Cecato recently moved that the formation of wards be investigated.

Many, if not most, Councils are divided into wards and each ward elects councillors for their ward ensuring equal representation across the whole LGA and it is a well proven system.

The motion was voted down by six of the other seven Councillors.

The seventh councillor was absent.

The absurdity here is that the motion was only to investigate the formation of wards, not implement them.

However six of our councillors are not even interested in discussing wards, thus denying ratepayers the opportunity of input to a more equal representation across the Coffs Harbour LGA.

There is no doubt strong support from the communities with no voice in Council, to divide the LGA into possibly up to four wards.

For example, North, Central, South and West, with two councillors elected to each ward plus the popularly elected Mayor.

There is no reason why this cannot be done.

What are these councillors’ objections to at least open the topic up for discussion with their constituents?

Even more concerning is that two of the councillors opposed to even considering wards have nominated themselves as candidates for next month’s State Election!

If they are opposed to even listening to the community on a local level, what hope would we have with either of them in State Parliament?


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