Alexandrina Council restructure gets tick from elected members

A new era: The proposed new ward structure for the Alexandrina Council to be considered by the Electoral Commission of South Australia. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

A new era: The proposed new ward structure for the Alexandrina Council to be considered by the Electoral Commission of South Australia. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

A re-shape of Alexandrina Council's wards and elected body will move forward, after a final report was approved by elected members.

At the council's July meeting, elected members approved a Final Representation Review Report which will be submitted to the Electoral Commission of South Australia for consideration and certification.

As part of the council's recommendations, the total number of elected members (including the mayor) would drop from 12 to 10 and three councillors would each represent three new wards (Alexandrina North, South and West), replacing the current five ward structure.

Prior to this decision, the council had been required to undertake a Representation Review on these matters under section 12 of the Local Government Act 1991, as it has been eight years since its composition and ward structure have been reviewed.

As part of this process, a public consultation period took place in which 74 submissions were received by the council.

The process drew some controversy when an initial Representation Options Paper narrowly passed through the council's elected body in April.

A 6-4 vote on this initial options paper supported the reduction in elected members, but a deadlock occurred over plans to divide the council into three wards.

Mayor Keith Parkes exercised his casting vote to pass the motion, voting in the affirmative with councillors Coomans, Maidment, Farrier, Keily and Gardner.

Councillors Lewis, Scott, Rebbeck, Stewart and Bradford voted against this option and raised concerns over the structure of the proposed three wards.

While the final report was also approved at the council's July meeting, there were councillors still opposed to the restructure of the ward system.

Councillors Lewis and Bradford voted against the final report, while councillors Scott and Rebbeck who voted against the initial Representation Options Paper in April were absent.

Cr Coomans said that following a number of discussions and accepted compromises throughout the process, he would "fully support" the final report.

Mayor Keith Parkes agreed and said that despite a ward restructure, people across Alexandrina would continue to contact elected members across the district who they felt best suited to resolving issues.

Some elected members made the point that if the council did not approve the final report, the Electoral Commission would have the opportunity to devise its own restructure of Alexandrina's wards.

Cr Maidment said that the best move was to support the ward restructure as defined in the final report, rather than leaving the decision to the Electoral Commission which could result in undesirable outcomes.

"This is all about practicality," Cr Keily said.

"I think that this is the best compromise and it makes sense... this is all about representation and setting it up in such a way that it can be managed within the confines of the state government's direction and I sure wouldn't like to see them get the opportunity to sort it out for us, we'd finish up with a camel perhaps."