Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will face his council critics tomorrow at a "free and frank" discussion over dissatisfaction about his leadership.
Goff has invited councillors to get together after a finance committee meeting to talk about working together better as a council.
The meeting follows a letter from nine of the 19 councillors last week saying he runs a "non-inclusive style of leadership" and trust and transparency in council is getting worse.
I will be asking him tomorrow to provide me with a statement from the Ombudsman that confirms the tenor of the advice set out in the letter
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
The letter was prompted by Goff's initial refusal to give councillors full and open access to two reports, costing $923,000, into a central city stadium and then only releasing them with strict conditions.
The councillors pointed to a "rather distrustful political working environment within council" going back to a December meeting where Goff attempted to remove councillor Wayne Walker as deputy chairman of the regulatory committee, to be replaced by deputy mayor Bill Cashmore.
"Clearly there are a number of issues that have cropped up," Goff said in an email today calling for the meeting.
"The meeting tomorrow will be an opportunity to discuss those issues openly and to agree on a path forward, so that we can work together in the constructive and collegial manner that Aucklanders expect of their Council," Goff said.
The mayor defended his handling of the reports in a formal response to councillors last Wednesday.
Today, Goff's response came under fire from councillor Daniel Newman over a claim the Ombudsman was satisfied with how he had made copies of the reports available to councillors.
"Council staff advised me that the Ombudsman is satisfied with this arrangement and regards it as acceptable," Goff said in his response to councillors last week.
Newman, one of the nine councillors to sign the letter, said he was seeking clarity around the "bold claim".
"I will be asking him tomorrow to provide me with a statement from the Ombudsman that confirms the tenor of the advice set out in the letter," Newman said.
Another one of the nine councillors and one of the complainants, John Watson, also believed Goff's response did not tally with a letter he received from the Ombudsman saying he had just begun his investigation.
In a statement issued today to the Herald, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said: "I only commenced a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act investigation and review last week into the Auckland Council's decision to provide Councillors with conditional access to the reports.
"Each complaint must be considered on its merits. My formal investigation of the two complaints in question is in its early stages and I am not in a position to form a final view until those inquiries are completed."
A mayoral spokesman said from the beginning, councillors have had access to the full, unredacted report.
"The Mayor received advice from council that the Ombudsman had raised no concerns with additional measures taken to ensure councillors continued to have access to the full, unredacted report," the spokesman said.
Councillor Mike Lee, who also signed the letter, said Goff is facing a credibility issue over bad decisions and there needs to be a clean break and reset in the way he handles information.
The spokesman said the mayor was looking forward to a constructive discussion with councillors tomorrow.