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Text of Auckland Councillors' Open Letter to Phil Goff

Nine Auckland councillors have sent an open letter to mayor Phil Goff on his handling of a report on a stadium proposal and his leadership style.

The following is based on automated text recognition and may contain errors. Please refer to the PDF document: 170613LtterRePWCReport.pdf

June 11th 2018

Dear Mayor Goff

Given events of the last few weeks we feel that as elected representatives of the Auckland Council we should give formal expression to our concerns relating to the manner in which the PWC report into the proposed downtown national football stadium' has been handled. This was a ratepayer funded report that we are told was commissioned by Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) in response to "...a desire by the mayor to better understand the feasibility of this vision."

This report has apparently cost in the vicinity of $935,000 to produce. This is a very significant sum of money especially given the extensive involvement of RFA personnel in both the 'project' and 'steering groups' that ran the study. As we understand it the original quote was for a fee of 'up to $600 K' for the work outlined. A further $335 K in cost was then added when you personally requested more information on the funding options for a stadium.

In light of both the cost and significance of this study we are concerned that the two reports produced (the first of which was published in June 2017) have only just come to our attention. This in turn has only occurred in response to the LGOIMA request from the media which was subsequently appealed successfully to the Office of the Ombudsman.

This means, amongst other things, that over the period of nearly a year you have made no attempt to inform councillors as to the contents of the report or indeed that it had even been written. In our view this behaviour falls far short of the sort of transparency and inclusiveness we would expect in such a significant matter as this concerning a potential $1.5 billion stadium.

A related concern we have is that in being forced by the Office of the Ombudsman to release these reports, the copies at first emailed through to us were so heavily redacted so as to make the value of these documents in such a heavily censored form, questionable to say the least. Your associated offer to make an unredacted copy available in the confines of your office (and then only under the direct oversight of mayoral staff) was entirely unsatisfactory, if not insulting.

The latest offer, once again prompted by the Ombudsman, to make copies available but with a further set of conditions, is similarly unacceptable. In refusing to provide us with an unredacted copy on the same grounds you have enjoyed yourself, you appear to be drawing little distinction between your elected colleagues and the public at large. We remind you we are duly elected members of the Auckland Council, just like you. You have had a copy for nearly a year but not us. Why is that?

We find the pretext advanced of safeguarding the location of potential sites unconvincing. Indeed you have previously been quoted extensively on the front page of the Weekend Herald in relation to one particular site which was clearly identified in a large graphic.

If this was an isolated incident we might have been tempted to raise the appropriate objections and mark it down to experience. Unfortunately, however, this is reflective of a leadership style that has become increasingly apparent as the term has progressed.

We would have hoped that the last Governing Body meeting of 14th December 2017 in which a number of these issues were raised in open session might have provided an opportunity to start afresh and ensure a more positive and constructive working environment. That this hasn't happened since then is an ongoing concern to us as councillors.

In our view the result is a rather distrustful political working environment within Council. Central to this atmosphere of distrust are some of these leadership practices articulated at that 14th December meeting.

Regrettably this behaviour has not been isolated and in our view is evident yet again in the handling of this matter concerning the PwC report and the Western Springs issue at the end of last week. Quite simply the question of trust and transparency within the Auckland Council is getting worse not better as far as we are concerned.

We the undersigned therefore wish to formally register our strong dissatisfaction at the way in which this matter and others are being handled by you as mayor and in particular the non-inclusive style of leadership it is revealing.


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