We so seldom publicly hear from our councillors here in Napier, you can easily forget they exist, other than in the run up to elections.
Edicts are typically issued by the Mayor and / or CEO.
This “Elected Members Code of Conduct” (or “EMCC”) does indeed appear to strip our elected members of many rights including the ability to publically criticise other councillors or members of council staff and limits who can say what to the likes of the media – thus the “We’re all one big, happy family” visage of the last few years that receives wide scepticism.
The latest “gagging” incarnation of Napier’s EMCC appears to have been around since 2004, but this EMCC is “reviewed and confirmed at each triennium by local councils” – you would expect this to coincide with the three-yearly local body election process.
So wouldn’t you think at least some councillors would have queried or tried to change or abolish this over the last 12 years / four elections?
This current council term coming to an end saw the biggest number of councillor changes for over a decade and the biggest chance of such changes yet but, alas, no change.
Question One: So why hasn’t the “gagging” EMCC been changed or challenged since 2004?
Just yesterday I also came across something that would appear to severely limit councillors’ abilities:
While reading the 2016 Napier City Council Candidate Handbook, I came across the declaration Napier’s councillors have to take before taking office “Inaugural Meeting”, Page 9 FYI).
I found the wording that councillors will “Perform in the best interests of Napier City Council” very odd.
Not for the public of Napier, or even ratepayers, but Napier City Council – the local authority!
Very odd indeed.
I investigated further, asking a Twitter friend who is an absolute gun on matters of legislation and they pointed me towards section 14 of Schedule Seven in the Local Government Act of 2002, which had the boiler plate for such declarations.
Napier’s declaration does indeed appear different.
Whilst the Local Government Act’s declaration states councillors will “Perform in the best interests of (City/District) VIA their (Local Authority)”, Napier’s rather clearly seems to imply councillors’ main loyalty is to, well, the council!
“Autorität über alle”
Just who is in control here?!
I didn’t vote for the CEO. No member of the public can.
From recent news coverage the majority of Napier ratepayers don’t want a velodrome, they would prefer more / bigger public swimming pools, as the city of over 60,000 currently has only one.
Here we have a problem.
If it is in fact unelected staff, rather than councillors, leading the charge or in control of major council ventures and they go pear-shaped at the ratepayers’ expense, such as the aforementioned bus and museum travesties (which no member of the public voted for either), recent concerns with NCC’s Animal Control Department, or the on-going Sk8 Zone debacle we can’t vote out the council’s CEO or staff when they are involved in such high-jinks.
But we can (but for some unknown, highly irrational reasons didn’t) vote out the councillors who (apparently) supported it.
This all sounds very much like one of the many downsides of privatising council / state owned assets.
Question Two: Who of the incumbent and potential Napier City councillors will truly stand up for those who support and elected them this election and finally challenge and change this “gagging” EMCC and the misguided allegiance of the Councillor Declaration?
You are the voice of the city’s people!
Napier City Council is supposed to represent and support the people of Napier City, not just senior council management and staff – let’s see that!
Change the EMCC!
Napier voters deserve better!