Reason for ‘secret’ meeting not clear
‘‘Obviously if a set of councillors call a special meeting, there would be some tensions there between the mayor and councillors.’’
The Horowhenua District Council remains tight lipped on the details of a closed meeting last week but the district’s mayor says it was about reducing his communication with the council’s chief executive.
Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen said eight out of 10 councillors signed a proposal to discuss ‘‘lessen[ing] the reporting’’ between him and chief executive David Clapperton during a meeting in Levin last Tuesday.
Councillors called the publicexcluded special meeting, rather than the mayor or chief executive.
Feyen said it was about changing the lines of reporting between the chief executive and his governing body, which he believed would ‘‘lessen the reporting that needs to be done’’.
‘‘It’s pretty much how I read it but I can’t comment any more on it.’’
The meeting came about by requisition – the same method used by councillors to oust Ross Campbell from the deputy mayoralty position earlier in the term.
‘‘It’s clear from the get-go that some people are struggling with a new mayor,’’ Feyen said.
He abstained from the vote giving the go-ahead to the meeting because it ‘‘simply didn’t need to be a council meeting to start with’’.
He also left before the meeting finished.
He said it had been disappointing to learn about the meeting just three days prior, as his ‘‘door’s always open’’ if councillors wanted to raise any concerns.
‘‘It’s like, crikey guys, come and have a yak.’’
Legislation allows councils to exclude the public from meetings, or parts of meetings, under certain circumstances.
Horowhenua Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop would not comment on what was discussed at the meeting.
He said he did not agree with Feyen leaving early or discussing the meeting’s topics with the public.
‘‘It’s his call, but I think it’s irresponsible.’’
Councillor Bernie Wanden said he was not in Horowhenua when other councillors signed the requisition but, given the opportunity, he would have.
Campbell was the only other councillor who did not sign up.
A council spokesman said what was discussed at the meeting was, at this stage, confidential.
Clapperton did not attend the meeting and would not comment.
Local Government New Zealand president and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said it was ‘‘unusual’’ but possible for councillors to call a special meeting.
‘‘I don’t really want to speculate, but obviously if a set of councillors call a special meeting, there would be some tensions there between the mayor and councillors. ‘‘But that’s pretty well known.’’ Generally, only the mayor or the chief executive called special meetings and if councillors wanted a meeting called it would still go through the mayor or chief executive, Yule said.
Councillors have the right but it’s ‘‘very rarely used’’.
Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton and mayor Michael Feyen. Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule