Hamilton City Council Chief Executive Richard Briggs says an Audit New Zealand report into decision-making around a proposal for a central city park clears the air and confirms the Council processes were appropriate.
“I requested the report to address questions and innuendo about the development of the Central City Park proposal. This included comments about members of the public as well as Council staff and Council processes,” Mr Briggs says.
The Audit New Zealand report, which is included in the public agenda for next Thursday’s Council meeting, examined the process to develop a proposal for a central city park near Victoria on the River, as part of the 10-Year Plan. The report considered the decision-making process of the Council, the process in which the Chief Executive was given instructions by the Council and actions taken by the Chief Executive as a result.
In September 2017 the Chief Executive was requested by the Council to speak with property owners in the area and report back to the Council. Some commentary has since suggested these discussions gave some property owners a commercial advantage.
“The report confirms these suggestions have no basis in fact. The report finds it reasonable to conclude one property purchase was not due to these discussions, and it categorically states there is no possibility other nearby purchases were impacted as these transactions occurred well before any discussions,” Mr Briggs says.
The report also found:
- The meeting processes, including those in public-excluded sessions, were appropriate
- The Chief Executive acted on Council instruction
- Debate on the concept was robust and enabled Councillors to express their views
“The final report took longer than initially anticipated due to the review process but it provides the facts and clears the air. It was important to put to rest unfounded allegations and we can now fully focus on providing for a growing city and delivering our biggest-ever 10-Year Plan budget for Hamilton,” Mr Briggs says.
The report was commissioned by the Chief Executive in March 2018, and a draft report produced by Audit New Zealand for review of matters of fact and accuracy on 31 May 2018. Feedback was provided between 7 June 2018 and 10 July 2018 and the final report sent by Audit New Zealand on 11 July 2018.