Auckland Councillors' letter to 'non-inclusive' Mayor Phil Goff revealed

Author
Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 13 June 2018, 12:44p.m.
Yesterday, Goff played down any possible vote of no confidence in him, saying he had just received unanimous support in glowing terms for his 10-year budget. (Photo / Greg Bowker)
Yesterday, Goff played down any possible vote of no confidence in him, saying he had just received unanimous support in glowing terms for his 10-year budget. (Photo / Greg Bowker)

A letter of "strong dissatisfaction" has been sent to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff by nine of his 19 councillors who criticise his leadership as "non-inclusive".

The councillors behind the letter cite Goff's handling of the recent controversy over a proposed new downtown stadium for Auckland and his refusal to give councillors full and open access to a report by PwC costing about $935,000 as the reasons for the move.

It was a significant report that was supposed to cost up to $600,000, but that only came to light thanks to a successful Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request from the media, the letter says.

Councillors John Watson, Wayne Walker, Greg Sayers, Mike Lee, Cathy Casey, Efeso Collins, Chris Fletcher, Daniel Newman and Sharon Stewart signed the letter.

Over the course of a year Goff had made no attempt to inform councillors on the contents of the report, the letter read.

The councillors said if it had been an isolated incident they might have been tempted to raise the appropriate objections and mark it down to experience.

"Unfortunately, however, this is a reflective of a leadership style that has become increasingly apparent as the term has progressed," the letter said.

The councillors pointed to a "rather distrustful political working enviroment within council" going back to a December meeting where Goff tried to replace Albany councillor Wayne Walker as deputy chairman of the regulatory committee with deputy mayor Bill Cashmore.

At the meeting Goff faced a barrage of criticism over his leadership style and the hurt he inflicted on Walker, whose only warning was a phone message.

The councillors said in the letter they hoped the December incident might have provided an opportunity to start afresh and ensure a more positive and constructive working relationship.

"This hasn't happened. The result is a rather distrustful political working environment within council.

"Quite simply the question of trust and transparency within the Auckland Council is getting worse, not better, as far as we are concerned.

"We, the undersigned, therefore wish to formally register our strong dissatisfaction at the way in which this matter and others are being handled by you as mayor and in particular the non-inclusive style of leadership it is revealing," the letter said.

Yesterday, Goff played down any possible criticism in him, saying he had just received unanimous support in glowing terms for his 10-year budget, unlike former Mayor Len Brown's last 10-year budget, which was passed with a bare majority.

Goff's budget was carried at a governing body meeting on May 31, but seven councillors voted against various clauses.

"On what matters to Aucklanders I have received strong support," he said.

A mayoral spokesman said Goff was expected to formally respond to the letter today.

READ MORE: Auckland councillors pen letter of no confidence in mayor Phil Goff

 

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