Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Most councillors keen to take up freebies

Hamilton City councillor Angela O'Leary. Photo / APN
Hamilton City councillor Angela O'Leary. Photo / APN

Tickets to sell-out rugby games, the play Oliver, the Comedy Convoy and the Magics netball preliminary final are among the freebies claimed by Hamilton City Council's politicians.

In February, the council started recording the use of complimentary tickets to events at council venues, and tightened rules in April requiring councillors to have a justifiable business purpose to use them.

Since February, 86 of 143 complimentary tickets used by the mayor and councillors were for personal use, according to information provided under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

Councillor Angela O'Leary, who chairs the events sponsorship committee, took 24 to support events including the Food, Wine and Jazz Festival, Armageddon Expo and some Chiefs games.

"I go because they are available and they don't cost the ratepayers any money. It's important to be seen out in public and to use the council facilities to see what works and what doesn't."

Councillor Daphne Bell took 22 tickets.

Of mayor Julie Hardaker's 20 tickets, 18 were hosting guests at events.

Hardaker said there was a "reasonable balance" between the number of tickets taken to host community members and personal use.

"I think that's an important aspect of being an elected member, you do attend a number of functions and many of those are in the weekend and in the evenings.

Deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman and Roger Hennebry didn't take any tickets during the six-month period.

- NZ Herald

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