Flight south a waste of money
Two Nelson city councillors travelled to Dunedin for a workshop on efficient local government only to be told by a cleaner that it was cancelled.
Nelson City Council spent $2200 on getting Nelson deputy mayor Ali Boswijk and councillor Gail Collingwood to Dunedin last Thursday to attend the Local Government New Zealand workshop on Friday, and then get them home.
The workshop for mayors, chairmen and women, councillors, chief executives and senior managers was to be held on Friday with a focus on exploring the terms of "efficiency, capacity, service delivery, community needs, responsiveness, refocus, fiscal responsibility, effectiveness, procurement, service performance, best practice, streamline, enhance, review, collaborate, economies of scale, optimal resource utilisation".
Mrs Boswijk said she and Mrs Collingwood went there as planned, but the LGNZ officials who were meant to host the workshop could not make it.
Mrs Boswijk told the Nelson Mail it was not until they arrived at the Dunedin City Council venue and found it empty that a cleaner was able to let them know it had been cancelled.
LGNZ policy team member Frances Sullivan, who was to have co-presented the workshop, said there was a problem with their aircraft which delayed the trip and when it became clear they would not make it to Dunedin until the afternoon, the workshop was cancelled.
She said the decision to travel on the day of the workshop was to help save costs. LGNZ had managed to contact most of the delegates to explain the workshop was off, but they had a problem reaching those from Nelson.
Mrs Boswijk said it was a "rather frustrating waste of a trip and money", particularly as it was just before Queen's Birthday weekend.
She raised the possibility of asking LGNZ to reimburse costs, or ask them to come to Nelson to present the workshop.
Ms Sullivan said the best LGNZ could do was make itself available to come to Nelson if the council wanted that.
Mrs Boswijk said she and Mrs Collingwood got to spend an hour with Dunedin mayor Dave Cull and discuss the city's draft economic development strategy, which Nelson could learn from.
Meanwhile, councillor Rachel Reese, who was left off the list of city councillors selected to attend a forthcoming LGNZ annual conference despite the fact she is to present a paper there, has voiced her potential embarrassment at the situation.
The council has approved spending of $9540 plus disbursements for Mayor Aldo Miccio plus Mrs Boswijk as deputy mayor, and councillors Pete Rainey and Eric Davy, to attend the conference in Queenstown.
Ms Reese said LGNZ had invited her to present a paper at the workshop on the Resource Management Act, in return for a reduced attendance fee.
"It would reduce the council's fee to attend if I was going because you won't have to pay the full fee," Ms Reese said.
The recommendation was altered to include Ms Reese in the lineup of councillors to attend the conference and send councillor Derek Shaw in Mr Davy's place as he is unable to attend.
Councillor Ian Barker said sending five councillors was exorbitant.
"To send five at this time of hardship for many is sending a very bad message," Mr Barker said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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