Horowhenua Council keeps mum on economic board activities
By our Levin correspondent, Veronica Harrod
An Official Information Act request for the minutes of economic development board meetings held in 2016 and 2017 has been refused by Horowhenua
The council’s chief executive David Clapperton says, “The Horowhenua Economic Development Board is not a committee of the Horowhenua District Council. Council is not required to hold and does not possess copies of Horowhenua Economic Development Board meeting minutes. We are therefore unable to provide the information you have requested.”
The request was made because of concerns the board is having an undue and unmandated amount of influence and control over decisions made by council.
Three councillors on the board
Profiles of the nine members of the economic development featured on the council website include three councillors — Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop, who is also deputy chair of the board, and councillors Barry Judd and Piri-Hira Tukapua.
Board chairperson Cameron Lewis is rumoured to be standing as mayor at the next local body elections. He has been asked to confirm whether this information is true and his response will be published once confirmation or denial has been received.
Other members on the board include men regarded as “captains of industry” — Andy Wynne, Antony Young, Evan Kroll, Larry Ellison and Ron Turk.
Horowhenua’s economic development three year strategy (2014-2017) states it is, “a ten year vision to guide three year outcomes, priorities, actions and initiatives” that was developed, “with business as well as the council, regional council, central government and council’s key partners.”
Economic development to the fore
The strategy also states an intention to take, “economic development…to the centre of council’s actions.”
After the Official Information Act (OIA) request was received, the council removed the profiles of board members from its website in the first instance.
When asked to comment on why this had been done council’s communications advisor Trish Hayward said, “Council is in the process of updating the information, layout and photographs on the Horowhenua Economic Development Board page of our website. The page has been temporarily deactivated while the update is carried out. We expect the update to be complete, and the page to be reactivated, early this year.”
The profiles and page featuring board members has been activated again.
The OIA request has been referred to the Office of the Ombudsman to determine whether council is required to release the minutes of board meetings for 2016 and 2017.