Free and frank fit­ting

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.’’

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