Rea­son for ‘se­cret’ meet­ing not clear

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

‘‘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’’.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Horowhenua Dis­trict Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive David Clap­per­ton and mayor Michael Feyen. Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand pres­i­dent Lawrence Yule

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