Closed off meet­ings ‘shock­ing’

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

Auck­land Coun­cil’s ur­ban de­vel­op­ment agency’s de­ci­sion to ex­clude the pub­lic from board meet­ings is ‘‘shock­ing’’, a coun­cil­lor says.

Since Oc­to­ber Panuku De­vel­op­ment, a coun­cil-con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tion (CCO), has re­leased lim­ited in­for­ma­tion about what has been dis­cussed be­hind its closed door board meet­ings, de­spite man­ag­ing $1 bil­lion of coun­cil-owned land and build­ings.

The agency is cit­ing ‘‘con­fi­den­tial’’ in­for­ma­tion as the rea­son.

Auck­land Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey said she was shocked to find out the meet­ings ex­cluded the pub­lic.

The with­hold­ing comes even af­ter Auck­land Coun­cil es­tab­lished a new Ap­point­ments and Re­view com­mit­tee in Novem­ber with the goal of im­prov­ing the ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­sive­ness of CCOs.

Joanne Perry, Panuku De­vel­op­ment’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, said the rea­son be­hind ex­clu­sion is that the in­for­ma­tion was ‘‘con­fi­den­tial‘‘, and dis­clo­sure de­pended on the what was in its agenda.

Clau­dia Scott, pro­fes­sor of pub­lic pol­icy at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity, said she would not ex­pect a CCO to have meet­ings open to the pub- lic.

‘‘A CCO is of­ten deal­ing with com­mer­cial mat­ters, and most or all mem­bers of the board are not elected - which makes it dif­fer­ent from a lo­cal body coun­cil.’’

De­spite this Auck­land coun­cil­lors have writ­ten letters to CCOs ex­press­ing a need for ‘‘ac­tive steps’’ to be taken to re­in­force ac­count­abil­ity, doc­u­ments from the coun­cil’s Fi­nance and Per- for­mance Com­mit­tee show.

The doc­u­ments said strong lead­er­ship will be needed over the next two years to build be­hav­iours which recog­nise CCO’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to res­i­dents and rate pay­ers.

It also said greater trans­parency in fi­nan­cial re­port­ing was an im­por­tant el­e­ment of this.

Panuku De­vel­op­ment’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive Roger Mac­Don­ald started last month.

Panuku De­vel­op­ment is one of Auck­land Coun­cil’s six CCOs, which re­de­vel­ops parts of Auck­land for growth, and is a com­bi­na­tion of the for­mer Auck­land Coun­cil Prop­erty and Water­front Auck­land.

Panuku has projects across Auck­land, in­clud­ing Wyn­yard Quar­ter and the Civic Ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing.

SUP­PLIED

Wyn­yard Quar­ter is one of the long term projects Panuku De­vel­op­ment has worked on.

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