Cr refuses to accept meeting apologies

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 25/08/2014
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Attendance around the Palmerston North City Council table has slipped in the past year, with one member now questioning the authenticity of his colleagues' reasons for absences.

For several weeks Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell has been abstaining from votes to accept apologies from councillors unable to attend that day's meeting.

"People never give an explanation," Teo-Sherrell said. "They might be looking after the grandchildren or have sick grandparents or they might just not be bothered." Just accepting apologies without knowing why someone could not be there was not adequate, he said.

"I've got no idea why people put in their apologies, maybe they're too busy but we get paid anywhere from $30,000 per year to some other amount to be there."

The council has provided the Manawatu Standard with the attendance records for city councillors for the 12 months to June 30.

They showed seven of the 15 councillors had attended fewer than 90 per cent of meetings of council or committees they were a member of.

This was down on last year where only four councillors were below 90 per cent attendance.

Mayor Jono Naylor had missed six of his 78 meetings for a record of 92.3 per cent.

The percentage of meetings attended does not include meetings councillors went to where they were not members of the committee.

The figures cover a 12-month period from July 2013 to June 2014. As such the four councillors elected in October - Leonie Hapeta, Aleisha Rutherford, Grant Smith and Rachel Bowen - had fewer meetings to attend than those who were on council in the previous term as well.

Of the quartet who left the council after the October elections, only Bruce Wilson had a 100 per cent attendance record between July and October.

Wilson attended 20 out of 20 meetings. Pat Kelly attended 16 of 18 meetings and Jan Barnett attended 14 of 17 meetings.

Nikki Guy attended just five of 17 meetings but was given a leave of absence for 11 meetings for personal reasons.

Teo-Sherrell said he had noticed attendance in the past 12 months was down on the year before.

However, it was still better than it had been as recently as five years ago.

"Last year was probably a high point, I'd say, it was probably an election year too, wasn't it."

Only one councillor, Susan Baty, had a perfect attendance record in the 2013/14 financial year.

She said she had not noticed a drop in attendance this year.

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- Manawatu Standard

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