'Death of democracy' claim fails to sway council

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 11:39 04/08/2014

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Warnings that a new council policy could kill off democracy has failed to halt the document's progress through the Hamilton City Council.

In a 10-3 vote, councillors last week adopted a policy for the appointment and remuneration of board members sitting on council organisations.

It also applies to council-controlled organisations and trading organisations - Waikato Innovation Park, Waikato Regional Airport, Soda Inc and the Vibrant Hamilton Trust.

Councillor Martin Gallagher said good work had gone into drafting the policy but objected to a clause which delegated authority to the council-controlled organisations subcommittee to appoint board members.

Councillor Dave Macpherson said the delegation of authority to the subcommittee was not good governance and outside Local Government Act principles.

Councillor Ewan Wilson said he was "extremely concerned" by the delegation clause, dubbed "4.6", saying the council was moving in an incredibly dangerous direction.

He said there was a general expectation among the public that all elected members were involved in making significant decisions, such as electing board members.

"It's the death of democracy as we know it. It's a tragic day . . ." Wilson said.

Councillor Garry Mallett, who chairs the council-controlled organisations subcommittee, said democracy involved delegating authority to elected members.

Mallett said Wilson was entitled to question the degree of delegation proposed by the new policy but believed comments heralding the death of democracy were geared toward getting media attention.

Meanwhile, council has accepted the 2013-2016 Waikato Triennial Agreement following amendments sought by Thames Coromandel District Council.

The agreement is a statement of intent by local bodies in the region to work together and promote development in their own districts.

A secondary intention is to align resources to attract greater levels of funding from central government for region-wide development.

aaron.leaman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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