Council meeting cancelled for haircuts, babysitting and snow

Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen is suspicious about six councillors missing a meeting, which resulted in it being cancelled.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen is suspicious about six councillors missing a meeting, which resulted in it being cancelled.

Seven of 10 Horowhenua councillors have missed meetings this term, with one meeting cancelled the same time an email-snooping scandal came to light.

Mayor Michael Feyen said some councillors' excuses for lack of meeting attendance were "strange".

A July council meeting was cancelled because not enough councillors were going to turn up as tensions rose over a leaked draft audit report that showed the council's chief executive David Clapperton was intercepting some councillor emails.

Horowhenua District councillor Ross Brannigan has attended all full council meetings except for one, due to snow.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Horowhenua District councillor Ross Brannigan has attended all full council meetings except for one, due to snow.

Feyen planned to address the issue at the meeting, but it was cancelled after six councillors couldn't attend.

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One councillor missed it so she could cut clients' hair and another was babysitting her grandchild in Iceland. 

Cr Victoria Kaye-Simmons has missed the most full council meetings – four of 16.

Cr Jo Mason and Cr Neville Gimblett have both missed three out of 16 meetings.

Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop, Cr Christine Mitchell and Cr Bernie Wanden haven't missed any.

Kaye-Simmons, who owns a salon, said she was unable to attend July's meeting because a staff member broke her wrist that week and another had sick children.

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She had to work at the salon all week, which was a rarity as she normally did not work on Wednesdays, she said.

Kaye-Simmons missed other meetings due to family commitments and bereavement leave.

The third-term councillor said her attendance was high over the past seven years.

"I also ensure  I get to as many weekend activities as possible to support locals.

"I do this job because I truly love it and believe in our district and our people."

Councillors backed Clapperton during the snooping scandal, but the council later changed its practices so that elected members were no longer treated as if they were his staff.

Feyen said some of the excuses for lack of meeting attendance were "strange" and he was "dubious" about so many councillors being unable to attend.

Missing four out of 16 meetings, as Kaye-Simmons did, was quite a few, Feyen said. 

Being unable to attend due to illness or family issues was acceptable, but council meetings were very important, Feyen said.

Cr Jo Mason said she didn't attend July's meeting as she was in Iceland looking after her grandchild.

She said it was unfortunate that the mayor was sceptical, but he should concentrate on backing the great councillors who worked for the district.

A cancelled meeting due to the lack of a quorum was not cause for concern, she said.

July's meeting is also the only one Cr Ross Brannigan has missed.

He said he was caught up with a snowstorm  relating to his role as Horizons Regional Council senior emergency management co-ordinator.

"What people don't see is the rest of the stuff we do," Brannigan said.

Cr Piri-Hira Tukapua, Cr Barry Judd and Gimblett were also unable to attend.

Feyen missed his first full council meeting as mayor on Wednesday because of illness.

Number of full council meetings councillors have missed out of 16:

Michael Feyen: 1

Wayne Bishop: 0

Ross Brannigan: 1

Ross Campbell: 1

Neville Gimblett: 3

Barry Judd: 3

Victoria Kaye-Simmons: 4

Jo Mason: 2

Christine Mitchell: 0

Piri-Hira Tukapua: 2

Bernie Wanden: 0

 - Stuff

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