The man who led the review into the dysfunctional Tauranga City Council before it was taken over by a commissioner has been appointed to lead the review into Wellington's council.
The review was announced just before a council meeting on Wednesday, to the surprise of half of the councillors. The other half had been notified beforehand.
Some councillors later expressed concern over whether the review would be truly independent, as both the person appointed, and the scope of the review, were decided by the mayor.
In a media release sent this afternoon, Wellington mayor Andy Foster said he had appointed Peter Winder to lead the review.
Winder - a former chief executive of both Auckland Regional Council and the advocacy body Local Government New Zealand - is the director of a consultancy group which provides advice to the public sector.
He is also a member of the Council of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, and has been a member of the Public Service Commission Risk and Audit Committee since 2015.
Most recently, Winder was involved in the Review and Observer Team, appointed by the Tauranga City Council to investigate in-fighting at the council.
The report, which found numerous governance issues, led mayor Tenby Powell to resign from his role.
It triggered a leadership vacuum, with Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta deciding to appoint commissioners to take over the running of the council.
"Mr Winder has a significant track record in governance and last year chaired the Review and Observer Team established by Tauranga City Council to address elected member relationship issues," Foster said.
"I have every confidence Mr Winder's findings will be impartial and set in place a pathway for improved governance and better outcomes for Wellington City."
However, councillor Jill Day said she still had concerns about the review.
Before Winder was announced, she wrote to the mayor asking for the review to go through due process and ensure the decision was made involving all councillors.
She said the review should be carried out by Local Government New Zealand.
"I am mindful that the minister of local government encouraged us to use our professional entities, which refers us to groups like LGNZ," she wrote.
She said she never received a reply from the mayor. In a follow-up, she said she "would still like a response from council officers".
"My points below raise questions about whether ratepayers' money can be spent on a matter that properly sits with SPC. The delegations are very clear and this action by the mayor is contrary to them.
"It is important that this matter is resolved before any ratepayer money is spent."
The review will take into account "relevant information pertaining to council decision-making," as well as media and social media coverage of the council.
When the report is finished, it will be made public, and any recommendations will go through council.
Administration support will be provided through the mayor's office.
Full list of the scope for the review:
- Examine relevant information pertaining to council decision-making
- Examine material that provides insights into the nature of the issues that the Council is facing - including media and social media coverage, recordings of council meetings and the records of council decision-making
- Undertake face to face meetings with all elected members and key people (internal and external)
- Observe the governance practice of the elected Council
- Observe the principles of natural justice with respect to any report it produces
- Report as the reviewer considers necessary to identify or describe the governance problems faced by the council and the factors or behaviours that contribute to them
- Provide a recommended action plan to allow the Council to take proactive steps to ensure it meets expectations to be a high performing council as soon as practicable