Conflict policy code reworking requested

Fears of unintended consequences caused Dunedin city councillors to request more work be done on a code of conflict policy.

The policy, which consolidates the management of staff conflicts of interest in one document, was considered for adoption at yesterday's meeting, but was sent back to chief executive Sue Bidrose.

Among the concerns expressed by councillors was the impact it could have on volunteers, who were included under the definition of "employees''.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said "pretty much all'' of the policy should be kept, but more work needed to go into defining its scope.

"There is not enough clarity for me to support it just the way it is. I think it's probably 98% there,'' Mr Cull said.

Cr Jinty MacTavish was worried the inclusion of council staff being lobbied "by an interested party through comments, either formally or informally'' as an example of conflict of interest would be unworkable.

"I can say with absolute certainty that happens to me every day and it is likely to happen to staff every day on a range of issues.''

Mr Cull agreed, saying he had "grave reservations'' about the clause.

"It basically prevents someone from doing their job, up to a point.''

Cr Aaron Hawkins was concerned the policy could prevent contractors and volunteers from making submissions to the council.

This was because volunteers and contractors were included as council "employees'' in the policy, which also stipulates employees must get approval before making a submission on council processes.

"I'd hate to see the rush to get this signed off deny us the chance to refine a few of the rougher edges,'' he said.

Cr David Benson-Pope shared Cr Hawkins' concern and said the policy needed to be looked at again to get rid of any unintended consequences.

"I don't think anyone doubts the need to have this document and the vast bulk of these rules, and sooner, rather than later.''

However, yesterday's conversation demonstrated the policy, as it stood, would have some effects that were "clearly not intended''.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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