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Stage One - The five options considered in October / November 2020
Option 1 is the existing structure, which results in a ward quota of 5,247, with ward representation ranging from 1:4,876 to 1:5,628.
Based on the projections available, the existing structure would result in a ward quota of 5,383. Whilst at its next review, if this structure is to be retained, the ward boundaries will need to be reviewed, the retention of the existing ward structure now may be perceived by the community as a sign of stability within the Council.
Past Representation Reviews have demonstrated the preference of communities for no change to an existing ward structure.
However, if change is necessary or desirable, a structure which has a logical basis and exhibits ward boundaries which are easily identifiable have been preferred options. For this reason, it is recommended that if a proposed realigned of boundaries is to be considered, that proposed future ward boundaries are created with existing, long established' suburb boundaries, main roads or prominent geographical and/or man-made features.
The structure in Option 2 represents a change for the Council, as it has been divided into the existing ward structure for many years.
Feedback received from Councillors is conceptually in favour of the ward structure, on the basis that it provides the best opportunity to represent electors. Retaining the same number of Councillors maintains the representation quota, with each Councillor notionally representing 5,383 electors.
A no ward option would mean that all Councillors would be elected from the Council area as a whole. One potential benefit being the opportunity for more diversity in representation, given that a lower percentage of the vote would be required by candidates to be elected, as compared to the current two (2) Councillor ward system.
To satisfy local needs in a 'no ward' structure, Councillors could be allocated responsibilities for geographic areas, portfolios and/or other communities of interest under such an arrangement.
While the structure in Option 3 represents a similar change as the ‘no wards’ option (Option 2) with 16 Councillor structure, under this option the change in representation quota would be relatively high, with each Councillor responsible for representing 7,178 electors each (being a 33% increase).
Under this option, each Councillor would have a proportionally higher number of electors to represent than they currently do, which may, of course, lead to a loss of representation for electors, or delays in receiving timely responses.
Based on the feedback received, changing to a structure with no wards and, at the same time, reducing the number of Councillors, is likely to cause challenges for both Councillors, as well as for the Council’s community, which would expect a continuation of the level of representation it currently receives.
The Option 4 structure would provide the community with a level of continuity, in so far as the representation in each ward remains at two (2) ward Councillors. However, the ward quota would increase from 5,247 electors (Option 1), to an average of 7,178.
By comparison, if this were to have been the Council’s ward quota at the prior general election, it would have been higher than all other comparison councils, save for the City of Onkaparinga.
Again, under this option, each Councillor would have a proportionally higher number of electors to represent than they currently do, which may, of course, lead to a loss of representation for electors, or delays in receiving timely responses.
Notwithstanding this, if a ward boundary review were undertaken to implement a structure such as this, it would also present the Council with an opportunity to recast the ward boundaries to reduce the existing and projected variances between the ward quotas of the wards.
Under the structure in Option 5, it is proposed to amalgamate four (4) of the existing wards into two (2), creating a four (4) ward structure, with a representation of three (3) Councillors in each ward, within the quota tolerance limits.
The proposed boundaries align with the suburb boundaries or main roads and most suburbs have been retained in their entirety, to assist with retaining community diversity.
This structure will sustain growth in the Council area in the longer term and will manage tolerances in future residential development.
However, again, as in Options 3 and 4, the ward quota would increase from 5,247 electors, to an average of 7,178. Each Councillor would have a proportionally higher number of electors to represent than they currently do, which may lead to a loss of representation for electors, or delays in receiving timely responses.
Community may propose other options in their submission including the number of wards (if these are to be retained), ward boundaries and the number of Councillors.