Hutt City Ward Committees Appointed
Hutt City Council appointed members to its four ward committees during a public excluded session of Council last night.
"We expect shrill denunciations from our political opponents, and from some unsuccessful appointees of the process used, but I am confident that we have chosen a group of people who will function as council ward committees should, that is, by working cooperatively and constructively with their council colleagues to achieve improvements for ward residents," said Mayor John Terris.
"We believe we have appointed the best possible people available, and that there is absolutely no political bias whatsoever in the choices made. A number of my own team have missed out, and a number of Hutt 2020 candidates and supporters have been included."
Other decisions made
by Council were:
* No late nominations were accepted
* Councillors appointed to ward committees should not have to be from the ward that elected them
* Ward committees to be made up of five community representatives, plus one Hutt City councillor.
Mayor Terris saw no issue in Council discussing nominees without the public being present.
"We adopt a similar process for appointing all Council committees involving outside appointees and have done so for years."
"There is a tendency for some, when the media are present, to engage in grandstanding for their own ends, and where Council is discussing the suitability of nominees for appointment, I think it is perfectly reasonable for those discussions to be confidential.
"There is also a risk that councillors could be confronted over the way they voted, if it was known who they voted for.
"I am also perturbed by the implicit assumption that, by conducting the selection in private, there is something untoward going on. I personally find that assumption offensive. We need to be able to discuss the merits and otherwise of individuals, without fear of retribution."
"We have been greatly aided in all this by the professionalism and integrity of Council staff who had their independence from political interference attacked in the most reprehensible way by members of the public during the 'public comment' section of last night's meeting. We will need to consider ways in which we can protect those staff from such unwarranted and unfair attacks in the future."
"We want the best people for the job and we risk deterring high quality candidates if they think discussion of their reputations and abilities could be reported in the media," said Mayor Terris.
"If people cannot rely on information they give to Council being kept confidential they may simply decide its not worth putting themselves forward for positions, or may decide to do business elsewhere - to the detriment of Hutt City."
"Contrary to what some may think, this Council has always been very open and transparent in its affairs and that will continue. There are however, going to be times when we want to discuss issues in a free and frank manner. This was one of those times."
Hutt City has four ward committees (Central, Eastern, Northern and Western) and three community boards.
Ward committee membership is:
Ray Wallace (Councillor)
Glenda Barrett (Councillor)
Joy Baird (Councillor)
Angus Finlayson (Councillor)