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Mayor’s blooper pits her and the CE against Council

A large public gallery applauded the Rotorua Lakes Council’s decision on 28 February against outsourcing the management of the Aquatic Centre to Community Leisure Management (CLM). After months of controversy the Council decided 6-5 to go “back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre."

Seconds into a recess following the decision, the microphones of the video recording system picked up Mayor Steve Chadwick assuring Cr Charles Sturt that “Yes, CLM will go to the High Court.” The excerpt was deleted within hours but too late to prevent sharing. Within 48 hours Chief Executive Geoff Williams announced a swift external review that would pre-empt further union-community development of the staff proposal.

“The Mayor only permitted councillors to question officials about the outsourcing option,” said Glenys Searancke, Chair of RDRR. “She prevented any consideration of the Progress Report prepared in haste by the union-community Leadership Group that included the RDRR. They proposed an inhouse centre management kaupapa of biculturalism and modern business management, and codesign with Council.”

“The Mayor’s blooper suggests that Council has a contractural relationship with CLM,” said RDRR Secretary Reynold Macpherson, “which, if true, would contradict the assurances given under oath to the Employment Relations Authority on 17 December by the Acting CE, and since. And if CLM were to seek a Judicial Review in the High Court, who would be the respondents? Just as the councillors deserved the facts on such consequences before voting, the RDRR now demands the whole truth from the Mayor and the CE.”

“In the meantime, although the CE’s hasty review might persuade CLM not to rush to the High Court, it would flout the democratic will of our people,” said RDRR Committee member Paddi Hodgkiss. “We believe the process going forward should be determined by the Operations and Monitoring Committee that decided 9-5 to put the recommendation to Council. The process should review all six options specified in law, provide the union-community Leadership Group with reasonable time and authentic co-design participation, and then offer the hearings only given so far to officials.”

Highly critical comments have deluged RDRR’s Facebook page since the blooper was posted. They have focused on the perceived duplicity of the Mayor and her CE, with many calling for their resignations.

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