Transparency gaining

The Herald reports:

The abolition of secret briefings has been labelled a victory for democracy by re-elected Tauranga city councillor Rick Curach.

He has succeeded in formalising the new direction of the council to replace closed briefings with open workshops.

Today’s meeting focused mainly on the council’s revamped committee structure and its standing orders. It included a section that dealt with workshops – meetings where councillors were briefed on issues without reaching agreement.

Cr Curach’s move to formalise the holding of all workshops in the open, except where good reasons existed to exclude the public, was unanimously endorsed by the newly elected council. It was also agreed that all workshops, including closed sessions, must be publicly notified along with their topics on the council website.

Another long-serving councillor, Catherine Stewart, praised the leadership of new mayor Greg Brownless for backing the move to open workshops – reverting to a system that existed before the 2013 election.

The Bay of Plenty Times revealed this year that nearly 200 confidential briefings were held by the former council over two and a-half years. This was more than twice as many as the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and four times more than Hamilton City Council.

200 secret briefings!

Good to see Tauranga go down this path. Off memory the new Hamilton Mayor has pledged to do the same. Other Councils should follow suit.

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