THE fate of Bayswater’s “ward” system up for public debate.
Bayswater currently has councillors allotted to four wards, with citizens voting for three representatives in West Ward, Central Ward and North Ward, while South Ward has two.
The ward system is intended to better represent an area’s minority views which might otherwise get lost if all candidates stand in a big run-off.
There’s debate among political scientists over whether wards achieve that aim, or whether they just lead to more arguing and pork-barrelling as councillors try to wrestle funds towards their own ward to win local support.
Planned state government reforms will see wards removed at many councils. Local government minister John Carey has requested councils like Bayswater either review their ward system to justify keeping them, or they’ll have the boundaries scrapped at the 2023 election.
Bayswater’s volunteered to review the system and wants to hear from residents about whether they should keep wards.
• Scrapping the ward system;
• Reducing wards from four to two;
• Retaining four wards, but rejigging boundaries to have equal representation based on the population (the two South Ward councillors are currently representing a few hundred extra residents each compared to other wards).
Consultation’s open til December 15 via engage.bayswater.wa.gov.au or in person at the Civic Centre or council libraries.
While the review is eating up a lot of council staff time, Bayswater mayor Filomena Piffaretti says doing it voluntarily is a better option than losing wards: “I truly believe taking the voluntary pathway proposed by the minister for local government … will result in the best possible outcome and cause the least amount of disruption.”
Bayswater’s also reducing the number of councillors from 11 to nine over two election cycles, and will let voters choose a mayor directly for the first time in 2023 instead of councillors making the choice.