There is considerable truth to statements made by Community Board members Guy Burns and Bernie Randall a few weeks ago that KCDC are becoming less transparent, says Districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott who has had to make three Official Information requests in as many weeks for basic operational information on important and time critical issues.
“The council has a legislative duty to respond to an OIA in 28 days, however, it is a completely disabling way to have to carry out our jobs as elected representatives.” says Cr Elliott. Two weeks ago, Carterton councilor Tracey O’Callaghan resigned for exactly this reason.
Cr Elliott says communication lines broke down at KCDC in early March, after she criticised the Mayor for ruining her attempts to bring the council’s controversial decision to dispose of council owned housing back onto the table for reconsideration. “For him to fail to even answer my e-mails, was clearly obstructive,” she says.
“In another instance, I emailed the Chief Executive and Mayor twice regarding a review of the Waikanae Library closure. With no response, I have had to pose 12 questions in an OIA. The Chair of the Waikanae Community Board has also said she was told by the Group Manager to refer her questions about the library to the C.E.,” says Cr Elliott.
“This year the mayor and councilors have also taken to regular meetings or informal ‘chats with the C.E. (three scheduled this month). While discussion is good, it is undemocratic for these meetings to occur without agendas, without any minutes and without any official records of the discussion whatsoever. More alarmingly, they include straw poll decision making on major multi-million dollar issues.”
“I have attended just one of these sessions, as, for the second, I was told the day’s business at council was over, when they all attended a ‘chat’ with the C.E. soon after I left. The public and I have no idea what decisions were made by the council, and no way to find out. This is a shameful way to carry out public business.
“With further unanswered questions on the operation of the Waikanae River recharge and the blocking my attempts to have the two property disposal reconsidered, it is important to me that the public are made aware of exactly what is happening inside KCDC and I am grateful for the two Community Board members who stick their necks out to do this,” says Cr Elliott.