Councillors struggle to decide on meeting day

Tuesdays or Wednesdays - what appeared a simple decision on what day of the week the Waitaki District Council will meet turned into a confusion of motions and counter motions yesterday.

Initially, it appeared councillors were unanimous on Tuesdays for council and committee meetings, having reached a general agreement at a recent workshop.

However, Waihemo councillor Kathy Dennison was not at that workshop and wanted meetings to continue on Wednesdays, gaining enough support to win a motion by five votes to four.

But then councillors were not sure, so they rescinded that motion and have asked for separate reports on Tuesday and Wednesday meeting schedules to make a decision at a council meeting on December 1.

Former councils met on Tuesdays, until earlier this year when they changed to Wednesdays to suit former deputy mayor and councillor Gary Kircher, who had been appointed to the Community Trust of Otago which met on Tuesdays.

Yesterday, a "Meeting Schedule - 2011" had a schedule reverting from next year to Tuesdays.

But Cr Dennison said the council had met on Wednesdays all this year and she had "made other arrangements" for part of Tuesdays.

She successfully moved Wednesdays be the meeting days.

Cr Kevin Malcolm understood councillors had agreed to Tuesdays.

He appreciated Cr Dennison was not at that workshop, but was asking the council to change the wishes of everyone else.

Cr Jim Hopkins said the decision to have Wednesdays affected two councillors who were not present yesterday when the vote was taken, could not express their views and thought councillors had agreed to Tuesdays.

Complicating the issue was the possible effect on news media coverage of council and committee meetings.

A Wednesday meeting could also clash with Oamaru District Court sittings and if news media staff resources were stretched, they may not be able to attend a council meeting.

But Cr Dennison pointed out, despite that, news media had been at all council meetings this year.

After consulting standing orders over the process to rescind a previous motion, Cr Geoff Keeling successfully moved to revoke the decision on Wednesday meetings and two papers on the option of Tuesday or Wednesday meetings be put to the council on December 1.

Whatever day is chosen, the new schedule will not take effect until January.

The council did decide to continue with meetings starting at 9am.

In the past some councillors had suggested late afternoon or night meetings, so more public could attend.

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