Blog: Mayor misses crucial vote

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker went missing in action yesterday.

Front-and-centre in the council debating chamber was the vexed issue of saving - or not - the century-old Municipal Pools.

At stake were months of slog by pool supporters, and potentially millions in community cash.

It was a time for decisive leadership, and the council was faced with two resolutions: one a categorical commitment that a pool would be retained on the site, the other one deferring a final decision for more than a year.

When Ms Hardaker backed the black-and-white commitment by seconding it, she set the stage for a historic decison - next the debate, then the vote.Instead, after supporting the conclusive amendment, she nicked off to the annual ''Mayoral Address'' at the Hamilton Probus Christmas Luncheon.

Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman took the chair, the vote taken, and at 6-6 he held the casting vote - which he then used to kill the amendment.

Apparently it's a tradition that the Mayor speaks at the annual occasion.

The Mayor is always the first to tell you how busy her schedule is, but when it comes to critical decisions on an issue which hundreds of Hamiltonians have shown is hugely important to them, her priorities should be clear.

Council meets only once a month, and her diary should be cleared for it - a Christmas knees-up for ageing professionals should not have come first.

While the most vocal advocates of saving the pools are happy just to have a resolution which didn't order the pools closed, the mayor let them down.

While the mayor could now say - with the benefit of hindsight - that she would have voted the same way as her deputy, that's actually irrelevant.

When a critical decision is being made - and particularly one so clearly on a knife-edge - the mayor should not be scoffing asparagus rolls, she should be leading the debate, and casting the vote the public has given her.