Queenstown council’s info plunge


City Hall is suppressing emails between boss Adam Feeley and the mayor over the Wakatipu Swim School screw-up.

Feeley, the former Serious Fraud Office head, and Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden publicly butted heads over a council decision to cut the swim school adrift from Queenstown Events Centre.

The dust-up centred on the mayor passing to councillors a lobbying email from Wakatipu Swim School owner Jane Hughes - the day before a decision was made.

On May 6 Mountain Scene used official information laws to ask for correspondence between the council supremos.

On Tuesday of this week the council acknowledged Feeley wrote two emails to Van Uden on the swim school stoush between April 27 and May 6 - but refused to release them.

Info gatekeeper Barbara East says the emails were withheld “to maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through free and frank expression of opinions”.

The council did, however, cough up the offending email from Hughes.

Written on April 29, it says an attached document - also kept secret - outlines her swim school’s views on the swim school vote.

Hughes: “I’m very happy to discuss further any point or clarify as required. Can you please forward to the elected councillors on my behalf? Thank you very much.”

Two hours later, Van Uden forwarded the message to councillors, adding: “As requested by Jane below.”

Councillors’ email addresses are handily placed on a single webpage.

But an email sent by the mayor might be seen to carry more weight - which is perhaps what left Feeley fuming.

In early May, Feeley told Mountain Scene that the mayor noted the “irregularity” at the crucial April meeting and directed councillors only to consider an evaluation panel’s report when deciding which way to vote.

Feeley: “In light of this, and the decision reached, I do not consider that the matter needed to be taken further.”