Closed off meetings ‘shocking’
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.
Wynyard Quarter is one of the long term projects Panuku Development has worked on.