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New committee set-up approved

“Committees of the whole” have been given the green light by Gisborne district councillors.

As reported in the Herald on Wednesday, Mayor Rehette Stoltz proposed a new-look committee structure to speed up decision-making at the council.

All councillors will sit on three committees of the whole — Sustainable Tairawhiti/Toitu Tairawhiti, operations, and finance and performance.

The committees will have the power to make decisions, meaning their recommendations will not be rehashed and overturned by the full council, as was liable to happen with committee recommendations in the past.

The new structure was adopted by councillors at their first meeting, held at Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae yesterday, with councillors Andy Cranston and Larry Foster sharing the chairmanship of the operations committee, and the mayor at the helm of the Sustainable Tairawhiti and finance and performance committees.

Mayor Stoltz will also lead the civil defence and emergency management committee and chief executive’s performance review panel, and co-chair the committee for the Waiapu catchment joint management agreement as well as the council/iwi “local leadership body” that is yet to be formally established.

Councillor Amber Dunn will lead the wastewater management committee, while councillor Pat Seymour is the chairwoman for regional transport and district licensing committees.

Deputy mayor Josh Wharehinga is the chairman of the committee for code of conduct complaints.

Meanwhile, a lively discussion arose over the appointment of an independent chairperson for the audit and risk committee.

Councillor Tony Robinson questioned the need for the council to spend money on the role, as he believed the committee dealt with black-and-white decisions and members of the council had the required expertise for the position.

But Mayor Stoltz said the proposed appointment was based on Office of the Auditor-General guidelines.

Of more concern to councillors Dunn and Seymour was that committee members would not be involved in the recruitment process for the independent chairperson.

That process was to be managed by the mayor and chief executive but will now include councillors.

Cr Robinson was also unsure about the proposal to rejig the make-up of the Gisborne District Disaster Relief Trust, including getting rid of citizen trustees. He wanted to see both public and rural representation on the trust.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said recruiting members of the public and also ensuring their availability at short notice in times of disaster made it challenging to have citizen trustees.

Cr Seymour therefore suggested two councillors, rather than a member of the public, should be on the trust, along with two council officers and the mayor, as initially proposed.

The council agreed, with Mayor Stoltz pointing to Gisborne ward councillor Terry Sheldrake and Taruheru-Patutahi ward councillor Sandra Faulkner as suitable people for the job.