Code of conduct issue hits community board

CLASH: Papanui-Innes Community Board members John Stringer, left, Pauline Cotter, deputy chairwoman Emma Norrish, chairwoman Ali Jones, Jo Byrne and Mike Davidson.

The Papanui-Innes Community Board is embroiled in a code of conduct issue.

But the city council and the community board are refusing to release details about what board member or members are involved.

Nor’West News understands ongoing tension between board chairwoman Ali Jones and outspoken board member John Stringer has led to the code of conduct matter.

Mr Stringer has been outspoken in the past about board decisions, in particular, the Main North Rd bus priority project.

Nor’West News revealed last month an independent facilitator was needed to oversee a confidential meeting between board members on September 24 because of ongoing conflict.

A request by Nor West News under the Local Government Official Information Meetings Act for emails between Ms Jones and Mr Stringer has been refused by the city council.

Last month, Ms Jones told Nor’West News Mr Stringer was a “relative newcomer to the board” who “needed clarification regarding the process.”

Her comment prompted an angry response from Mr Stringer, who claimed confidentiality had been breached.

Neither Mr Stringer or Ms Jones would discuss the code of conduct investigation.

The city council said it had refused to release the emails between Ms Jones and Mr Stringer because “it would inhibit the exchange of free and frank opinions in the future.” The city council also said “public exposure of those opinions can sometimes have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to express themselves openly, honestly and completely in future.”

The city council considered that the correspondence between Ms Jones and Mr Stringer was an exchange constituting a “free and frank expression of opinion”.

The city council said it would not comment on the code of conduct investigation until it was completed.

Meanwhile, code of conduct complaints against Coastal Ward city councillor David East, Coastal-Burwood Community Board chairwoman Kim Money and deputy chairman Tim Sintes, and Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member Darrell Latham over allegations council staff had tampered with the District Plan are ongoing.