Councillors clash over job-share board seats

By Wayne Thompson

Residents associations are upset by what they call a "cumbersome job share system" among three North Shore City councillors striving to keep high profiles in their diverse harbour communities.

The three councillors want to also sit on the Northcote-Birkenhead Community Board.

But the law says the board can have only two members who are councillors appointed by the city council.

So the council has decided that instead of its appointees serving full three-year terms on the board, the three should each serve two years on a rotating system.

Rotation was accepted by newly elected councillors Ann Hartley, former Northcote MP and now a Labour list MP, and Grant Gillon, a former Alliance MP

But Tony Holman, who is in his fifth term on the council, says Mrs Hartley should not be on the board on a point of principle.

He said yesterday that he and Mr Gillon should get the board seats because they both won election to the board as well as the council.

The law forbids people being elected to both bodies, so each man vacated his seat on the board.

But Mr Holman said community voters had shown who they preferred for the appointee.

He and Mr Gillon topped the community board poll with more than 5000 votes.

He has the support of both the Northcote and Birkenhead Residents Associations who will ask the council to reconsider the rotation system and instead appoint each man for a full term.

"I have always stood for both because if I failed to get on the council, I'd like to be on the community board to do further work for the community," said Mr Holman.

Birkenhead association chairman Harvey White said: "We see no benefit to our community in being subjected to a cumbersome council job share system ... our community desire and vote is for strong continuous representation."

But Mrs Hartley, who was mayor of North Shore before entering Parliament, said Mr Holman's argument was nonsense.

"The council has never followed the idea that if you don't stand for the community board you don't go on it.

"If you stand for both it's like having a bob each way.

"I never stood for the board because I wanted something more than that.

"The council appointments on the board are just that, they are council appointments."

Mrs Hartley also said the community board had unanimously asked the council to apppoint her.

"They know me very well and asked that I be on the first year."

Mr Holman said he was not looking to "have a bob each way" because he was not being paid to do both jobs.

He said the community board should have more regard for the democratic process than to put up Mrs Hartley and Mr Gillon for the board appointments and ignore 5000 voters.

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