Confusion highlights inaugural meeting

By Sophie Price

2 comments
Councillor Andrew Watts.
Councillor Andrew Watts.

Confusion reigned at the Central Hawke's Bay council's inaugural building consent authority review committee yesterday.

It was initially an ad hoc committee formed to discuss recently raised issues plaguing the building division.

It was decided yesterday to formalise this into a sub-committee, following a general council meeting.

Facts as to how the committee came to make decisions were disputed.

Decisions included auditing the building division, appointing Morrison Low and Associates as auditors and concluding the firm would talk to 15 people about the building issues raised with Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler.

An audit was called for after a number of complaints about the way the council's building authority was functioning.

Councillor Andrew Watts then declared the meeting "null and void".

"The process here and the governance is absolutely appalling," he said.

"I cannot be dragged down by an organisation that works like this."

Council chief executive John Freeman said Mr Watts and his fellow councillors "unofficially appointed" the sub-committee.

"You went in and started making all sorts of decisions, you agreed on getting someone in to do a review," he said.

"So you are as guilty at stuffing up the process in the first place as anyone else."

Mr Freeman said the agenda paper before the committee was legitimate.

The number of people to be included in the audit was also called into question by councillor Ian Sharp.

"My understanding is when we did the terms of reference [for the audit] anyone who wanted to would be able to speak to the auditors," he said.

He then asked where the number 15 came from, to which Mr Butler responded: "I think it is a figure we created out of the air".

The terms of reference were also queried.

Mr Freeman said the terms of reference were again approved by "this group" but "not in a formal council meeting".

Councillor Terry Story interjected saying that they were never approved. He was abruptly cut off by Mr Butler as he was not a committee member.

The agenda items were passed with an amendment to the number of people to be included in the audit.

Mr Butler was made committee chair.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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