Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Councillors' meeting attendance defended

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Trevor Maxwell (left) and Peter Bentley have defended their low attendance rates for full council meetings. PHOTO/FILE
Trevor Maxwell (left) and Peter Bentley have defended their low attendance rates for full council meetings. PHOTO/FILE

Rotorua district councillors Trevor Maxwell and Peter Bentley have defended their low attendance rates for full council meetings saying their absences were unavoidable.

The Rotorua Daily Post has been given attendance figures for all councillors from 2014 to 2016. Figures for 2013 were not available as records were kept differently.

When it came to full council meetings, Mr Maxwell had the lowest rate each year, attending 75 per cent of meetings in 2014, 71 per cent last year and 67 per cent this year.

Mr Bentley also attended six of the nine full council meetings this year (67 per cent).

However Mr Maxwell told the Rotorua Daily Post his non-attendance at the meetings he missed was unavoidable.

"My role as a cultural ambassador has meant I am away on council duties when meetings are being held. I make every effort to get to meetings and do a lot outside the meetings.

"I attended the World Tourism Conference in China this year and unfortunately contracted a water-borne illness in Samoa which had me in hospital for a week.

"It's not about making excuses, sometimes missing meetings is unavoidable and I am sure people will understand."


Mr Bentley also offered an explanation for his absences.

"For three of the meetings I was in hospital so while I am sorry I missed them, I had a legitimate reason for not attending."

He had attended 95 per cent of the full council meetings in 2015 and 93 per cent in 2014.

"It is incredibly important to attend council meetings as a councillor because it is your one chance to represent the ratepayer who voted for you."

Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive Geoff Williams said in his experience it was rare for councillors to not attend meetings without a legitimate reason.

"There are times when councillors are unable to attend meetings and generally there are very good reasons why they can't attend.

"Trevor for example has got responsibilities within organisations which see him represent Rotorua both nationally and internationally."

Mr Williams said if a councillor missed four consecutive meetings without a reason or apology given, an extraordinary vacancy was created, effectively meaning they had resigned.

"This has obviously not happened with councillors sending apologies and reasons for non-attendance.

"The responsibilities of our councillors are quite broad. They are working in the community and attending numerous meetings so at times there are clashes."

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson had the highest attendance rate across the three years, attending all full meetings in 2014 and 2016 and 20 of the 21 meetings in 2015.

"I am lucky to have enjoyed good health for the past three years and ensure my work as a district councillor is prioritised."

He said the committee meetings he has missed were because he was representing the mayor at other events.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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