Local board fails to open workshops to public

The Hibiscus representatives on the local board, all four of whom campaigned one way or the other on ending closed confidential workshops, have failed to make this happen at the start of the term.

Ideally this needed to be voted on early in the term, and an opportunity came at the first business meeting of the new Hibiscus & Bays Local Board, on November 21.

However, the workshop issue was not raised by any of the members.

In the meantime, the system remains the same and workshops continue to be held behind closed doors, with no access to the public or media, whether or not the items discussed meet the criteria for confidentiality.

The only change is the addition of monthly Community Forums where the public can speak to the board in a more informal way.

Members of the Coast People & Penlink First team who were elected to the Hibiscus subdivision of the local board – Gary Brown (chair), Andy Dunn and Leanne Willis – campaigned strongly on ending closed workshops, while the other elected Hibiscus member, Janet Fitzgerald, said during the campaign that she, and Bays member Julia Parfitt, wanted to replace workshops with two public meetings per month. This option has also not progressed any further.

The local board appears divided, which is making things difficult.

Mrs Fitzgerald says she and Mrs Parfitt are waiting for the other members to make the first move on open workshops, because they pushed for it hard in the campaign.

She says that the Local Board Services department came up with a recommendation for local boards that the work programme continue as it has in the past – it is well known that staff are not in favour of open workshops. “But we don’t have to follow those recommendations,” Mrs Fitzgerald says.

It is possible that this plan of work for the year could be voted on at the next business meeting, on December 12, at which time members could choose to raise and vote on options such as opening workshops.

Mr Brown says members are looking at alternatives and may talk about it at the next workshop. “This is all pretty new to us and we are still finding our feet,” he says. “We haven’t determined the outcome on workshops yet.”

Council workshop doors ajar
Auckland Council’s governing body passed a resolution on November 26 that allows committee chairs to open workshops to the public, at their discretion. The resolution was moved by Cr John Watson and seconded by Cr Wayne Walker. The same meeting approved the terms of reference for the review of Council Controlled Organisations. This process will also be open for public input.

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