QLDC pinged for breach

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Queenstown Lakes District Council has been named by the Ombudsman for breaching the law on official information.

“There was a failure to meet the requirements of the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act,” Ombudsman David McGee advises Mountain Scene.

In February, the paper requested copies of QLDC staff newsletters and any bulletins issued by council boss Duncan Field.

Under the law, says McGee, QLDC had 20 working days to either release the information or advise grounds for withholding it – the material was finally released in May, two months late.

McGee says QLDC blames the delay on “pressure of other work”, notably the council’s 10-year plan.

Last December QLDC was fingered in Parliament by Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem.

In her annual report, Wakem accorded QLDC the dubious distinction of being the only district council named for attracting a “significant number” of complaints to her office.

QLDC accounted for 11 complaints – half that of Auckland City Council.

Wakem also told Parliament that official bodies flouting legal time limits got on her wick.

“There’s a regrettable tendency to ‘game’ the system … in order to delay responses until the currency of the complainant’s interest [has waned],” she reported.