Community board complaints remain secret

TROUBLE: The city council is refusing to release information on conflict between the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board which led to behind closed-door meetings with the Mayor and chief executive.

The city council is remaining tight-lipped over code of conduct complaints involving Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board members.

It has refused to reveal details to Southern View on the behind-closed-doors sessions that went on last year to resolve issues amongst the board.

But a residents’ association which labelled the board “dysfunctional” says the information should be public.

Central Riccarton Residents’ Association secretary Garth Wilson said the ratepayer should know if there is “dysfunction” on the board.

“It is the ratepayers’ business, it is the ratepayers’ money that is being squandered by this dysfunction,” he said.

His views were backed by Templeton Residents’ Association chairman Garry Kilday, who said the public should know what is happening.

A request by Southern View for all correspondence between Dr Edwards and the community board on the code of conduct of fellow board members was refused.

A city council spokesman said the privacy of those who make complaints to the city council or the nature of the complaints are not generally released.

He said releasing the information could have a “negative effect” on expressing their opinions openly in the future.

“In the council’s view, the reasons for withholding these details are not outweighed by public interest considerations.”

 Southern View reported last year the board privately met with city council chief executive Karleen Edwards and Mayor Lianne Dalziel in October.

Dr Edwards had received complaints about the conduct of board members.

She told Southern View the meeting centred on challenges they faced, in particular, surrounding the Denton Park decision-making process, their relationships and joint-decision making.

But Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board chairman Mike Mora said issues it had faced “absolutely” did not get in the way of the board getting the job done.

“Our record is we get the job done. Everything we have been asked to do or has been put in front of us we will make a decision either one way or another,” he said.

Mr Mora said it is not the only board in the city facing code of conduct issues.

The Papanui-Innes, Coastal-Burwood and Linwood-Heathcote-Central Community Board have faced code of conduct issues over the past year.

But Dr Wilson said the association’s experience with the board is it is unable to resolve any issues in a timely manner and it now goes above the board to Dr Edwards to get things done.

“We are not saying the personalities on the boards are hopeless. We are saying the board is dysfunctional and it does not achieve anything,” he said.

Mr Mora said it passes resolutions at the board and has to wait on staff to implement them.

“It is the way bureaucracy works in Christchurch,” he said.

Deputy chairwoman Helen Broughton said she will be meeting with two senior city council staff members today over the process in place for elected members.