Into the fray: New Queenstown councillor Esther Whitehead reads the oath at her swearing-in ceremony yesterday as mayor Jim Boult looks on. Whitehead, a social activist and self-employed consultant, won the seat in a by-election three weeks ago after the previous incumbent, John MacDonald, resigned for health reasons. PICTURE: QLDC


QUEENSTOWN Lakes Mayor Jim Boult used his casting vote yesterday to get Arrowtown councillor Heath Copland’s motion for four electoral wards over the line for public consultation.

Five councillors supported consulting on a single-seat Arrowtown ward, alongside the proposed new Whakatipu (4 seats), Kawarau (3 seats) and Wanaka-Hawea wards (4 seats).

Five councillors favoured consulting on the recommended three-ward option, which would abolish the Arrowtown ward and the Wanaka Community Board.

With newly sworn-in councillor Esther Whitehead abstaining, Boult was forced to vote.

Council media man Jack Barlow says the names of councillors on each way of the split weren’t recorded

The proposed three-ward structure was recommended by an independent representation review advisory group.

But several Arrowtown residents submitted yesterday the council should direct staff to prepare a different model for consultation.

Former councillor David Clarke urged councillors to honour the late Jim Ryan, a lobbyist for Arrowtown, who died earlier this week.

‘‘Vote wisely and vote to honour Jim’s desire to have fair and effective representation,’’ Clarke said.

Advisory group members weren’t at the meeting, but the group had recommended Arrowtown be merged into the new Kawarau ward – and the lobbyists were having none of it.

Copland said when Arrowtown realised its potential destiny, his phone and email ‘‘blew up’’.

Quentin Smith said he didn’t want to delay the review by arguing over what went out for consultation, nor did he want to question the credibility of the advisory group, which had done a lot of work.

He suggested adopting the group’s recommendation and specifically inviting Arrowtown to submit for what it wanted.

Penny Clark agreed with Smith that councillors shouldn’t redesign the advisory group’s proposal.

When it appeared the situation could not be resolved, Boult put the debate on hold and asked chief executive Mike Theelen to help Copland word a new recommendation.

Boult wasn’t comfortable leaving the issue lying on the table, citing concerns that may disrupt the consultation schedule.

Submissions will be received between July 5 and August 6 and then heard in late August before the final proposal’s considered on September 16.