Boult’s open council move

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Queenstown’s new mayor has named his deputy and re-introduced standing committees – removing a level of secrecy.

Mayor Jim Boult was sworn in this afternoon and made Cr Calum MacLeod his deputy.

Boult also reinstated four standing committees, which will come into effect from January 2017.

They’d been abolished in November 2014 by former mayor Vanessa van Uden in favour of workshops – saying it would reduce demands on councillors, improve efficiency and maintain transparency.

But the behind-closed-doors workshops led to accusations of a lack of transparency.

Former councillor John Mann at the time said his fears had been realised.

“The job has got to be seen to be done – we’ve got to be able to see what they’re doing,” he said.

Now Boult, who beat Mann to the mayoral seat, has reversed the decision, while moving full council meetings from a monthly to six-weekly cycle.

The committee meetings will be held in public unless there are specific grounds under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act to exclude the public for a particular item.

Boult believes the committees provide for a “more in-depth analysis of important issues” according to a press release issued by City Hall’s comms boss Michele Poole.

It will enable the council to carry out its business more effectively, she says.

“The decision reflected the views of incoming councillors, as well as his own preference,” she says.

Boult says his choice of MacLeod as his deputy is based on the potential for a solid working relationship, as much as the convention of choosing Wanaka-based deputies.

Boult says: “It was not an automatic choice as we have a particularly capable group of councillors and they all bring valuable attributes to the table.

“I am confident that Cr MacLeod and I will have a solid working relationship.

“He is an experienced, respected representative and takes a pragmatic approach to finding solutions.”

Boult says they have common views on many topics.

“And where our perspectives differ, I know that we will respect each other’s opinions.”

MacLeod is the highest polling councillor in the Wanaka Ward election and is returning for his second term.

The new committees are planning and strategy, chaired by Cr Tony Hill; finance, audit and risk, chaired by Cr Ross McRobie; infrastructure, chaired by Alexa Forbes; and community and services, chaired by Cr Scott Stevens.

Boult says the short delay in establishing them will allow council staff to draft terms of reference and delegate authority to the committee structure.

The first ordinary meeting of the Council is scheduled for November 24.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz