Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate says she won't apologise for discussing topics of high public interest behind closed doors due to the legal and commercial sensitivities around them.
Hamilton City Council will today discuss 13 public excluded items including plans to drop the speed limit on busy commuter road Wairere Drive, plans for the new pool at Rototuna Village, purchasing land for the Peacocke Northern Sports Park and a proposal from the Hamilton Christian School.
There are also a number of public excluded minutes and briefing notes - from discussions previously held in secret - to be ratified.
The reasons given on the agenda for the secrecy around most of the high interest items was to enable council to carry out negotiations, while legal privilege was stated for the Wairere Drive discussion.
Southgate acknowledged some of the items such as the pool would be of high public interest, but said the council needed to shut the public out in order to have some commercially sensitive discussions which would otherwise jeopardise potentially good arrangements for the community.
"I don't think the public has the right to know legal debate or commercially sensitive debate, no."
Once the council made a decision, it would then be made public, she said.
Southgate said basic conceptual discussions around some of the items had already been held in workshops that were open to the public to attend even if no one did.
"I know there is this veil of secrecy so it appears, but I also believe that there is a place for private discussion with councillors where we can really ask the curly questions, talk warts and all. But I do believe once we've made discussions to a certain extent then the public has a right to know the decisions we've made and why we've made them."
Southgate said she went to great efforts to communicate with the public and once the council had been given the commercial or legal advice, all the details that could be made public would be. Councillors could also share their own views on them at this time.
The council had already spoken with the community about the proposed Rototuna Village Pool on "many many occasions", she said. The agenda stated agreements about the pool would be publicly excluded.
She expected the discussion around reducing the speed limit on Wairere Drive would happen in public once they had received the legal advice.
"I do believe as a council we are being more open to the public because there are more opportunities to engage with us."
Southgate said she relied on the chief executive and staff to make the right calls over what was public excluded, but would be discussing her expectations with staff to make the outcomes public as soon as practicable.
"There are some items in public excluded today that I do think will be of high public interest and I personally will be making sure they are able to be reported into public as soon as practical."