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Mayor stands aside from discussion

1 June 2005

Mayor stands aside from discussion

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast has stood aside from discussions and debate on two policies and parts of the Draft Annual Plan because of a perceived conflict of interest.

The Mayor has been advised today that because her husband Rex Nicholls has made submissions on the Draft Annual Plan, the Draft Heritage Policy and the Draft Development Contributions Policy, she should stand aside from the debate.

“I have stood aside from discussions and debate on the draft heritage policy because as Rex owns a heritage building there is the potential for a pecuniary conflict of interest to arise in the future,” Mayor Kerry Prendergast says.

“I would like to emphasise that it is my decision to withdraw from discussion on these issues and I have not been directed to do so. I would also stress that there is no financial conflict of interest. I am somebody who plays by the rules and I have taken the advice of the Auditor-General, the CEO and our legal advisors,” she says.

Her withdrawal is based on advice contained in the Auditor General’s Conflict of Interest guidelines which were issued last year which says that elected members should not participate in discussion or decision-making in the event that an immediate family member has made a submission.

Mayor Prendergast says she was not aware of the specificity of the advice contained in the Auditor-General’s Guidelines and Wellington City Council’s Conflicts of Interest Guidelines do not include this updated information.

The issues Mayor Prendergast will stand aside from in the Draft Annual Plan debate include the Festival of the Arts, Te Papa, pest control, the rating differential and support for Positively Wellington Tourism.

“I have always acted with the utmost integrity and I believe this is the right thing to do. I hope that any of my colleagues who find themselves in a similar situation would be equally responsible and not expose the Council to the risk of judicial review. “

ENDS

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