15 Jan 2013

Law body says six years without council elections too long

7:58 pm on 15 January 2013

The Law Society is concerned by the length of time it is taking for the Canterbury Regional Council to return to democratic elections.

Commissioners were appointed to run the council in 2010 after an external report criticised the way it was dealing with problems, including the management of freshwater.

Elections were to resume this year, but legislation tabled in September defers them until at least 2016.

The Law Society says six years is too long to suspend democracy without real justification.

But the Government says elections this year could potentially produce the same deadlock between rural and urban councillors that created the need for commissioners in the first place.

It says the commissioners' work on freshwater needs to be finished before elections are held.

Local Government Minister David Carter says he did not want the commissioners' unfinished work on water going to a council that may have the same rural-urban balance of power as its predecessor.

Mr Carter is interested in the Law Society's suggestion of a council made up of appointed and elected members, but says that would not happen until at least 2016.