A Far North District councillor is hitting back at council claims about his meeting attendance record, saying the report was designed to make him look bad.
The council, however, is defending the report, saying it treated all councillors the same — and while some attendance records were later found to have inconsistencies, the corrected figures were not much different.
The report, which was prepared for a committee meeting in March, cited elected member attendance figures ranging from 36 to 100 per cent at council and committee meetings plus 10 workshops between November and February.
The report gave mayor John Carter and first-term councillor Kelly Stratford 100 per cent attendance rates, while Dave Hookway scored 36 per cent, Mate Radich 39 per cent and Sally Macauley 40 per cent. All three disputed the figures.
Hookway admitted it was a challenge juggling his commitments to his full-time job at the Northland District Health Board with the duties of an elected member.
However, his travel expense claims proved he had attended another five meetings and appointments in November alone that hadn't been included in official attendance figures.
Hookway said the report did not reflect all councillors' activities.
''I've no doubt that in part, this misrepresentation and selective reporting of elected member attendances had political overtones — in part to make me, and some other members, look bad in my opinion."
Hookway was concerned the ''biased'' information could discourage other people in full-time employment from contesting the upcoming council elections in October.
If working people couldn't be councillors that left only the independently wealthy, retired or self-employed, which wasn't good for a functioning democracy.
"Being employed need not be a barrier for you standing up to represent your community ... we need to encourage diversity,'' he said.
Council chief executive Shaun Clarke said the elected member attendance reports were part of a bid to be more open and transparent with residents and ratepayers. Many local authorities around New Zealand published similar information.
''The reports simply add up the number of official meetings attended and each elected member is treated equally. After our initial report, we did uncover inconsistencies with some attendance records. However, corrected figures have not substantially changed the outcome,'' Clarke said.
Following feedback from councillors, future reports would include a greater range of official events such as consultation hearings.
The report was produced for the March 28 meeting of the Governance and Strategic Relationships Committee. It was the second such report, each covering a four-month period. The next one is due in July.
Nominations for the upcoming council elections open on July 19.