BAYSWATER will retain its four wards, but drop the number of councillors from 11 to 8 under mandated reforms.
At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting the council voted to keep the wards but adjust their boundaries to accommodate future growth, shifting the boundary between North
and Central wards to Tonkin Highway in 2023; and moving part of the suburb of Bayswater from West to South ward using Guildford Road in 2025.
It will also drop one councillor’s position in this October’s election, and the final two in 2025, though it had already moved towards a popularly-elected mayor for this year.
Retaining the four wards was the most popular choice among the 164 ratepayers who responded to the city’s consultation (53.4 per cent) followed by the 19.6 per cent who wanted no wards.
Residents’ interest was “leaps and bounds” over previous boundary consultations, deputy mayor Catherine Ehrhardt said, although in an “ideal world” it would have been at least tripled.
Cr Michelle Sutherland said it was good to see the support for the existing ward structure.
“I think as councillors we have to remember we have a good knowledge of our area and it’s good to keep business as usual,” Cr Sutherland said.
Cr Lorna Clarke voted for the changes, but sounded a note of caution.
“I think people will see a reduction in responsiveness, and the ability of nine people rather than 11 people to actually get back to them and represent their interests,” Cr Clarke said.
“I think this is fundamental; this is about democracy and how it works at a really local level.”
Cr Clarke said she believes the current workload is appropriate.
She was also concerned officers hadn’t got close enough to equal numbers in the four wards through the boundary changes.
“From a really high level, someone’s vote in one area shouldn’t be worth less than a vote in another area.
“I know we’re trying to build in growth … but I think we can get closer to one vote, one value than this.”
Only Cr Giorgia Johnson voted against the recommended changes, but she didn’t speak during the item.