Kathy Spiers, Chair of the Paraparaumu/Raumati Community Board is concerned that the current Kapiti Coast District Council proposal to do away with Community Boards across the district will rob the region’s many local communities of their ‘grass-roots’ democratic representation.
With the Representation Review currently out for consultation, citizens and local communities now have the opportunity to express their support for grass roots democracy and the local Community Boards who represent and work on behalf of them.
Says Kathy Spiers: “Local Governments were established to address the needs of local communities and Community Boards play a vital role in ensuring resources are allocated efficiently and fairly to those parts of the community that need them most. A key component of our role as a Community Board representative is to go out and meet regularly with representatives of the communities we serve to ensure we understand where the need is, so we can then make the right recommendations to Local Government. All of this will be lost if the Community Boards are disbanded.
“I accept that there is a need to review and improve some aspects of how our Council performs its duties and obligations. However, to disband the Community Boards as part of this review would be a very retrograde step. Given all the challenges of the past couple of years, I believe Community Boards are more critical than ever if Local Government wants to continue to genuinely engage with and fairly represent all our residents and communities of interest in Otaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu. Raumati and Paekakariki.
Kathy Spiers contends that there needs to be a Community Board in each of our communities of interest representing Otaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu, Raumati and Paekakariki, with less Councillors overall. This would ensure grassroots democracy and fair community representation could continue to flourish on the Kapiti Coast.
She continues: “Community Board members care deeply about the social, cultural, environmental and economic issues facing our communities and are always here to listen and advocate on behalf of our communities to Council, Central Government and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. If there is not enough support expressed to retain the Community Boards, the Kapiti Coast District Council will disband the Community Boards and replace them with an organisation to assess and distribute grants on the Council’s behalf.
“Any organisation appointed will not be elected and as such, ultimately not answerable to the community. I fear as a result, many of those in our communities most in need of resource allocation, support and grants many not have a strong enough voice representing them in the resource allocation process moving forward. This region’s Community Boards are the voice of its citizens and I encourage all those in our community who believe in fair representation and grass roots democracy to make your voice heard and express your support for our Community Boards.”
If you would like to fill out a submission form to retain Community Boards the submission form is on the council website www.kapiticoast.govt.nz, alternatively phone the Council (04) 296 4700 to request a submission form, Community Board members are also always happy to drop a copy of the form in your letterbox.