Free and frank fitting
An official complaint has been laid regarding South Waikato District Council’s latest decision to deliberate behind closed doors.
Resident and ratepayer Rod Young attempted to attend the deliberations on how the district’s $5 million would be spent but was turned away.
In the past year the council has held 17 public- excluded meetings and 33 public.
Communications manager Kerry Fabrie said this is the first complaint the council has received in three years regarding a decision to hold a meeting behind closed doors.
She said the deliberations were held in public-excluded in accordance with section 46(8) and 46(9) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
The section states that meetings can be held privately to allow councillors and staff the opportunity to free and frank expression.
The decision for a publicexcluded meeting was made by the committee chairperson on advice from staff.
Mayor Neil Sinclair said the council puts as little as possible into public-excluded meetings.
‘‘Wherever possible decisions are brought out into public as soon as practicable; and quite often the reports themselves come out into public too.
‘‘ Our council is happy to acknowledge that some council business is necessarily conducted in public- excluded and legitimately so, often for free and frank expression and commercial sensitivity, two of the most commonly used reasons.’’