Queenstown’s mayor Vanessa van Uden is backing a 12-month trial doing away with committees.
A year ago, the council voted to scrap committees saying they were sucking up staff and councillors’ time and half the matters discussed were simply for noting – not for voting on.
The trial’s up and Van Uden suggests the continuation of the existing structure – of one council meeting a month and having three “portfolio leaders” for operations, infrastructure and assets and planning and development.
She says in the agenda for Thursday’s council meeting: “In general most councillors have provided feedback that they are supportive of the current structure and continuing with it for the remainder of this council’s term.”
Van Uden says there have been no complaints about a lack of public participation and extraordinary meetings have been held when necessary.
While councillor workshops are not public they never have been and it’s not where decisions are made.
There were initial fears scrapping committees would shift power to the mayor and chief executive.
But that “cannot happen”, Van Uden assures, because decisions are made by the full council.
Council meetings have been “fuller” but she argues that gives councillors are a broader and clearer picture and “an increased feeling of shared accountability and responsibility”.
Van Uden admits some councillors feel there’s not enough time to “probe” at council meetings but she says most are satisfied they can seek clarification and make informed decisions.
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