CEO Heather Shotter and Mayor Grant Smith were on annual leave and have attended to requests on their return. During their absence, Council staff have responded promptly to media requests for the supply of information.
The majority of the requested information was confined to a Part II (confidential) meeting held on 4 September, 2017. It is normal practise of Council that anything dealt with in a confidential meeting remains confidential until authority has been given for the release of information by the CEO.
“On my return to Council from annual leave yesterday and being briefed on the request, I’ve approved the release of the meeting information today,” says Shotter. “Our elected members and Council staff have acted appropriately in waiting for approval of release of this information.”
“As a Council, we endeavour at all times to promptly respond to all information requests and statements while working within the confines of legislation and policies,” says Shotter. “Our staff have kept Manawatu Standard reporters fully informed that Council was actioning their formal requests, and the availability and the willingness of the Mayor for an interview on his return,” says Shotter.
“As outlined below, Council staff have responded with information, within their power to release.”
Timeline of requests and responses
Council initially responded to an Official Information request from the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union on 6 December, 2018 and this was reported by the Union.
Following publication of this information, the Manawatu Standard contacted Council for information on Tuesday 8 January. The following day, a statement was issued to the Manawatu Standard. The publication was also advised the Mayor was available for comment on his return, the following week.
On Thursday 10 January, a request was received for further information and was responded to the same day.
The Manawatu Standard reporter then requested further information under the provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 on Friday 11 January, after-hours. This was followed with a request from a second reporter on Monday 14 January for further information. Requests made to Council under this Act are undertaken through a formal process and Council has a legal obligation to respond to this request within 20 working days. Information from the Part II meeting was released Thursday 17 January, 2019.
NB: All Council meeting agendas are publicly notified on Council’s website prior to the meeting.