Councillors upset with mayor over new committee

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Nelson City councillor Pete Rainey has been stripped of half of his portfolio, with mayor Rachel Reese announcing the establishment of a new sports and recreation committee at this morning’s full council meeting.

The idea was put forward as a late item at the meeting and was the first time some of the councillors had heard of the new committee – causing some negative feedback.

Reese said that the committee, which will be chaired by deputy mayor Paul Matheson, will “mirror” the community services committee, which is chaired by Rainey. Membership will stay the same for both groups and the committees will sit on the same day.

“My feeling has been for quite some time that community services committee carries a big load, particularly when it comes to the amount of engagement that is required in this area,” she says.

“I’ve looked at the human resource that I have available, and I feel that the deputy mayor has the capability to take on a bigger role in this area and to be able to serve the community.

“It’s a model that’s used elsewhere across the country and I think it could work really well for us.”

Reese expressed her wish get the committees underway for the next round of meetings, however councillors voted 7 – 6 not to receive the report as a late item on the council’s agenda, which will delay the process until the next council meeting.

Rainey was one of those seven, saying he wouldn’t be supporting it, along with Luke Acland who said he was not content to accept the report.

“I’ve only been on council three years but I’ve never received a late item this late before,” he said. “I’m speaking against it. I’ve got real concerns on my knowledge of this issue only just having it thrust under my nose only moments ago.”

Matt Lawrey was also against supporting it, saying that the lack of consultation with councillors had caused him some “unease.”

“I think this is very strange the way this has been delivered to us today,” he said “I would like more time to consider it and I don’t think we should make decisions as important as this around governance on the hop.”

Mike Ward also voted to defer it, and suggested that the move would be “potentially divisive.”

“Get this council working together,” he said. “Progressing this will not do this and I would rather wait and come up with an approach we can agree on.”

The mayor said lateness of the item came down to “absences and workload.”

Councillors Eric Davey and Ian Barker said there was no point in deferring the report, as the decision had “already been made.”

“By delaying or not accepting this late item because you are not happy with it I find quite disappointing,” said Davey. “We should be sitting here as a council supporting our mayor.”