Conflicts of interest policy

Dunedin city council staff could be forced to resign under a new conflicts of interest policy to be considered by councillors today.

The new policy would cover all council staff and contractors, but not councillors, who would be the subject of a separate report still being prepared.

The staff policy sought to ensure council employees were ‘‘fair, impartial and responsible and trustworthy'' to maintain public confidence in the organisation.

To ensure they were free from ‘‘actual or perceived bias'', the policy set out a list of ‘‘prohibited activities'' council staff could not involve themselves in.

That ranged from employing friends or awarding contracts to family members, to a prohibition on the sale of council property to other staff - an issue that came to light, and was subsequently stopped, following the discovery of the Citifleet vehicle fraud.

A series of management plan options were also detailed as ways to deal with actual or perceived conflicts, ranging from seeking permission to continue in a role, while managing a conflict, to withdrawing from a particular issue.

Council staff could also be asked to relinquish private interests, or be required to resign from one or other conflicting roles. Staff in breach of the new policy could also face disciplinary action, the policy said.

The new approach was part of a suite of policies introduced as the council tightened controls across the board in recent years.

That included a new fraud prevention policy and training, and new rules on gifts and hospitality, among other initiatives.

The latest policy change would be considered by councillors at today's full council meeting.


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