Change at council rejected

02:07, Dec 14 2012

An attempt this week to change the Nelson City Council governing structure was voted down and later condemned as ''mischievous'' and ''negative''.

Councillor Paul Matheson forwarded a notice of motion to this week's governance meeting to switch from the current portfolio system back to a model whereby decisions were made by standing committees.

The move was supported by councillors Rachel Reese, Ian Barker, Eric Davy and Jeff Rackley, but was eventually voted down by eight votes to four.

Councillors Reese, Barker and Matheson were sidelined in the May review of the governance set up.

Ms Reese lost her role as portfolio holder of the economic development committee, which was set up in 2011 but was disbanded this year and its functions transferred to the governance committee.

She was also replaced as portfolio holder of the policy and planning committee.

Mr Barker was removed as portfolio holder of governance and Mr Matheson was excluded from a senior role in the reshuffle.

Mr Davy joined the chorus of disapproval at the move which Mayor Aldo Miccio said at the time was needed ntsGin ordernte to make the council run more smoothly.

He said in May that councillors Reese, Barker and Matheson were ''not in the mix'' of the team that was to lead and support each portfolio.

Mr Matheson said at this week's meeting the notice presented was an attempt to create a system that was more transparent and easier to follow.

He said outside the meeting most of the councillors who backed it knew the move would fail, but wanted to make it clear their voices would be heard.

''We have had a discussion among ourselves on a range of issues, and it's clear to us if you haven't got the numbers you're not going to get far.

''The notice of motion was an attempt to bring back a committee system to show greater transparency in council processes,'' Mr Matheson said.

Mr Miccio did not reply to questions from the Nelson Mail over whether he thought the council was now running better since the revamp.

Councillor Pete Rainey said attempts by Mr Matheson and Ms Reese to change the system were ''mischievous'' and ''designed to be negative as that is the way, more often than not, in which they seem to operate currently''.

Mr Rainey said the present structure was ''working extremely well and much progress was being made''.

He added that any review of the structure should wait until next term, which was stated by the majority of councillors.

Mr Miccio said in a written response to Nelson Mail questions that he felt the council was running better since the May reshuffle.

''This is due to a strong desire for the majority of councillors to work collegially and constructively and thus contribute positively to debates and decision-making processes.''

Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk, who also responded to the question directed at the Mayor, said councils by their very nature were rarely completely aligned across all issues.

''That is simply a reflection of how they are elected, essentially [in the case of Nelson City Council] 13 individuals agree or disagree depending on the issue.

''Clearly alliances around certain issues will develop as like-minds come together,'' Mrs Boswijk said.

She and other councillors who voted against the notice of motion were sympathetic to looking at a committee structure but, for some, it was a timing issue.

Councillors voted on whether to establish standing committees of governance, infrastructure, community services and environment and planning:
Yes: nfEric Davy, Paul Matheson, Jeff Rackley, Rachel Reese.
bfNo: nfAli Boswijk, Gail Collingwood, Ruth Copeland, Kate Fulton, Pete Rainey, Derek Shaw, Mike Ward, Aldo Miccio.
(Ian Barker not present during voting).