New code for councillors

Waipa District Council meets Tuesday May 30 in Te Awamutu.

A new Code of Conduct to keep tabs on elected members’ behaviour has been adopted by Waipā District Council.

The biggest change from the previous one adopted in November 2020 is an independent process to focus on serious rather than minor or trivial matters.

A section on dealing with the media, which notes the “important role” it plays in the operation and efficacy of local democracy, is unchanged. It says the media needs access to accurate and timely information about the affairs of council. Failure by a member to comply with this section can represent a breach of the code.

Jo Gread, Governance Manager.

Governance manager Jo Gread has added a more detailed section on behaviours, replacing a relationships section, and replaced the breaches of code and penalties with a new investigation and ruling part.

Based on a Local Government New Zealand template, the code now adopts a two-step process with the chief executive referring all complaints to an initial assessor who determines whether the complaint is valid.

If valid, the complaint either goes to the mayor or recommend the parties undertake mediation.

If mediation is not an option, the complaint is referred to an independent investigator.

“The council can either agree to be bound by an independent investigator’s recommendations or make their own decision on receipt of the independent investigator’s recommendations. The proposed policy leaves the decision with council, but it is important to note that any process for investigating an alleged breach must be politically independent and be seen to be so,” said Gread in her report.

The Code of Conduct now also includes a section dealing with the Local Government (Pecuniary Interests Register) Act 2022.

That requires all elected members, including community board representatives, to record their interests to ensure transparency and strengthen public trust and confidence in local government processes and decision-making.

 

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