No-go in bid to get no-show view

By John Maslin

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An attempt to get an Audit Office opinion on council attendance fell on barren ground at yesterday's Wanganui District Council meeting.

Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan got support from only deputy mayor Rangi Wills when she tried to seek an opinion from the Auditor-General, specifically around the number of meetings from which councillors could legitimately be absent.

Mrs Baker-Hogan's targets were councillors Michael Laws and Clive Solomon, regular "no shows" at the council table.

"I know this won't change their behaviour but I believe we need to get it clarified," she said.

Council chief executive Kevin Ross said the council had already obtained a legal view on this issue.

Mr Laws called Mrs Baker-Hogan's efforts a "petty and personal vendetta" and said the council had already litigated on the matter.

Councillor Nicki Higgie said the council had already received legal opinion on meeting attendances.

"It's not our job to judge our peers. That's what the electors will decide next year," Mrs Higgie said.

Mr Wills said that, while he did not think the Auditor-General would have an opinion on the issue, he was nonetheless interested in what he might have to say.

Those who voted down the resolutions were Sue Westwood, Mrs Higgie, Hamish McDouall, Randhir Dahya, Jack Bullock, Ray Stevens, Mr Solomon and Mr Laws. Rob Vinsen was absent.

The matter of tendering apologies was raised at the strategy and finance committee meeting, where it was suggested that the mayor send a memo to all councillors asking that any apologies be given to the committee chairman, secretary of the committee or the chief executive.

Last month the Chronicle reported that, two-thirds of the way through the council's three-year term - from October 2010 up to October 23, 2012, - Mr Solomon had made it to 22 of the 44 full council meetings. He tendered his apologies on 13 other occasions and was a "no show" for nine others. Mr Laws has made 25 council meetings, apologised for his non-attendance at 11, and was absent on eight other occasions.

Mr Laws got to just four of the 47 committee meetings, Mr Solomon got to 12.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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