In his recent LTCCP submission, former Napier Councillor Robin Gwynn provided a comparative analysis of deprivation levels in various Wards in Napier.
Using the standard data and methodology employed by Statistics NZ (which aggregates data on basically a city block basis), he showed the dramatic contrast in deprivation levels in Nelson Park and Onekawa-Tamatea as compared to Ahuriri and Taradale. You can see his charts and the underlying data table for all Napier neighborhoods here.
His points are straightforward:
1. Very significant socioeconomic disparities exist within Napier that require recognition and higher priority programmatic attention by the Napier City Council.
2. These disparities and the social needs associated with them fully justify political representation on a Ward basis — i.e., the ability to elect councillors who truly understand and champion the needs of their constituencies.
In Robin’s words, “there are three social ‘black spots’ in the city needing urgent attention, all of which need ten-year plans. But Council doesn’t know it, partly because it hasn’t done its homework and partly because it isn’t using its Ward councillors well or receiving regular reports from them.
So it’s making policy blind. It hasn’t developed grass-roots communications with our suburbs to connect with its community, which Local Government New Zealand describes as its first responsibility. That’s why two of every five of our citizens don’t believe they have much chance to express their views on Napier’s future.”
Other submitters like Anglican convenor Noel Henderey and Pat McGill of the Pilot City Trust voiced similar concerns about unmet social needs in Napier.
The Napier Council’s response was simply to blow off Robin Gwynn. Some Councillors quibbled with his analysis, a head-in-the-sand attitude on an intellectual and perceptual par with denying evolution.
Indeed, it appears that the enlightened Napier Council this week will be discussing progressing a Representation Review aimed at eliminating the current partial Ward system.
Gwynn’s data puts the lie to “one face” for all of Napier, and will make for a compelling case if the Napier Council once again attempts to bury Wards in a Representation Review.
Well done, Robin!