Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Phil Goff supports blogger on Auckland Transport board

Blogger Patrick Reynolds, who may get an observer role on Auckland Transport.
Blogger Patrick Reynolds, who may get an observer role on Auckland Transport.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff supports a blogger joining the Auckland Transport board after leaving two councillors off the board.

Last week, Goff announced two council appointments on the board would remain vacant for now to look at the best form of accountability for Auckland Transport and other council-controlled organisations.

He was not convinced having councillors on the board - Mike Lee and Chris Fletcher have been board members for six years - and subject to secrecy provisions was the best form of accountability.

Patrick Reynolds, of the Transport Blog, has applied for an observer role on the board, despite the blog stating it "is not associated in any way with Auckland Transport".

Reynolds is seeking a customer focus committee board observer role - a non-voting and unpaid position.

In a letter to the board, Reynolds said he was a highly engaged customer and commentator on Auckland Transport issues who believed his "other side of the counter" perspective would be extremely valuable.

"There is now significant commonality between our aims and official AT policy. We are highly aligned with AT," Reynolds said.

Today, Reynolds said he applied for a board position earlier in the year and received no formal notification of any position being decided.

Reynolds said if he got a board role "I would likely cease posting on the blog, or only do so with full disclosure and approval of the board. Like all boards there is a confidentiality agreement to adhere to."

Goff said the Transport Blog debates and discusses transport issues in a pretty analytical way and having someone like Reynolds bringing a customer focused perspective to the board was a positive. No decision had been made, he said.

"I don't see a problem with the board having input from a group like Transport Blog. They are an effective contributor to discussion around public transport and deficiencies in Auckland Transport," Goff said.

In an email to Goff, Lee said it was inappropriate for Reynolds to be appointed to the role, especially since Auckland Transport had paid him $41,000 for photographic work.

Reynolds is a photographer and commentator.

"Given Transport Blog's latest attack piece on councillor directors and its failure to declare its remuneration from AT I have released this documentation to the media," Lee said.

Under the headline, 'No councillors on AT board, perhaps not a bad thing', Matt Lowrie, of the Transport Blog, said Goff's decision to re-evaluate the decision in a year's time seems like a good solution.

"If it turns out AT start making even stupider decisions then some Councillors could always be added back again....six years in it feels like now is an appropriate time to shake things up to change how the organisation is run at both a board and management level to ensure we get better outcomes."

- NZ Herald

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