THE improvement in engagement and attendance of elected members at Invercargill City Council meetings shows a commitment to sort its issues out, a councillor says.
In light of the council’s governance review and the problems highlighted by the revealing Thomson report, the Southland Express asked how many required meetings elected members had attended since the election in 2019.
The majority of returning elected members were now on track to have a better attendance this term than the previous one, from October 26, 2016 to April 9, 2019, figures show.
Councillors Graham Lewis, Darren Ludlow and Marcus Lush had a 100% attendance rate, having not missed any of the council or committee meetings this term.
While Cr Lewis had attended 85 and Ludlow 94 of the required meetings since the inaugural meeting, Cr Lush has attended all 19 meetings since his election in February.
Cr Ludlow said he was pleased to be in the 100% attendance rate group.
“I guess the way we restructured our meetings, the number of the committees from four to two, helped tremendously on that but it also reflects the whole Thomson report and the Department of Internal Affairs oversight of everything has just meant that, from a personal perspective, I felt I just needed to commit everything that I had.”
Cr Lewis agreed.
“I think councillors need to do what they can, but it can be difficult due to other jobs and appointments.
“All the councillors try to make the effort but the unseen thing is the amount of work we have on preparations for these meetings.
“We are having more workshops than previously [before the review] and it’s good all councillors are acknowledging the importance of that. It shows our commitment to sort the issues out.”
Cr Lush said he did not know it was a metric that was measured.
He looked forward to each meeting and said it was important to turn up and it was something the public expected.
“I’m incredibly passionate about it and take it seriously,” he said.
At the other end of the scale, Cr Lindsay Abbott had been at 70 of 88 meetings which he was required to attend.
When approached by the Southland Express, Cr Abbott said he been away through illness but did not want to comment on the matter further as it was personal.
He said he had attended a number of meetings via Zoom.
Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt has had an increase in attendance compared to last term.
From October 26, 2016 to April 2, 2019, he attended 78 of the 117 council meetings, while since the 2019 election he attended 87 of the 92 required public council and committee meetings, a rate improvement from 66.6% to 94.5%.
The findings of the city council’s six-month review would be presented at next month’s city council meeting.