City of Melville council and wards under microscope in review

CHANGES to ward boundaries and the number of elected members could be on the horizon, with councillors expected to set in motion a review at tonight’s meeting.

The Local Government Act requires councils to scrutinise elected member representation at least every eight years, with the City of Melville last completing doing so in 2008.

The existing six-ward system with 12 councillors and a popularly elected mayor was retained unchanged at the last review.

However, the current set-up is no longer compliant with the Local Government Advisory Boards’ preference for deviations in councillor-to-elector ratios not to exceed 10 per cent across wards.

Melville’s overall councillor to elector ratio is one to 5725 but the City’s biggest ward, University, contains 12,618 electors – meaning one councillor for every 6309 electors, a deviation of 10.2 per cent. That ward also contains the Murdoch Mixed Use Precinct, an area earmarked for substantial growth in the coming decade.

As the first step in the process, City officers have produced a discussion paper which will be made available to the public for comment and contains a number of options for the community and councillors to consider.

The paper explores retaining the current system as well as dividing the City into a two, three, four or revised six-ward district. Abolishing the ward system altogether or reducing the number of councillors are also examined.

Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox highlighted that the discussion paper had been prepared with a number of options to consider and that the City did not wish to influence any submissions prior to the closure of responses.

“The City is required to seek community submissions on ward structure and elected member representation, and this discussion paper will help inform submissions regarding a preferred option,” he said.

“Community submissions will be open for a minimum six weeks. After that a further report with the City’s recommendation will be prepared.”