Official Information Request - Committee and Council Meetings
Sent: Thursday, 28 October 2021 2:04 pm
Subject: Official Information request - public attendance at committee and council meetings
I refer to your online Official Information request of 20 October 2021 regarding closing public attendance at committee and council meetings, and respond to your various questions/queries below.
- What advice was obtained in deciding to close public attendance to Rotorua Lakes Council committee and council meetings? Can you please provide a copy of this advice?
The decision was made by the Chief Executive in the interests of public safety, in light of the presence of COVID-19 in the community in nearby regions.
- Can you please state in detail the public safety risk with public attendance to committee and council meetings? In reference to Chief Executive Geoff Williams statement “We are erring on the side of caution at this time, in the interests of public safety,”
As above, the decision was made by the Chief Executive in the interests of public safety, in light of the presence of COVID-19 in the community in nearby regions
- In reference to Chief Executive Geoff Williams statement “We will monitor and review the situation as required.” Can you please provide the detail of what monitoring and/or reviews have been completed and the date of the next review?
The decision will be reviewed dependent on COVID levels, levels of community transmission and/or future advice from central government.
- Council recently had a staff member who was a “Loose Contact” of a covid case, and the Council Building was “Deep Cleaned”. Can you advise when the “Deep Clean” was conducted, how it was conducted and who performed it.
The “Deep Clean” was undertaken on 4 October 2021 by a specialist operations team from OCS Ltd. OCS Ltd used a ‘fog’ machine through the entire site, followed by wiping down of all surfaces once the fog had settled.
- In relation to the guidance by the Department of Internal Affairs to Council as at 8th May 2020 under the heading Council governance and decision making for Alert Level 2 which states: Physical meetings resumed where gathering restrictions can be met and can operate safely, and: Physical distancing and infection prevention and control requirements must be met, should record attendees to ensure contact tracing may be conducted if necessary, Arrangements will still be needed for councillors, staff and public who are at risk of severe illness should they contract COV remotely, if required (e.g., people aged 70 and over), If public meetings cannot be held safely, they may be held remotely
- Can council clarify its position on whether Physical Attendance at Council & Committee meetings can be held Safely and how or why members of the public are less safe or the risks to them attending?
- Can council clarify how elected officials and council staff are safer than the public or How elected officials and council staff are at greater risk with the public attending?
As advised above, in light of the presence of COVID-19 in the community in nearby regions, the decision was made to close committee and council meetings to the public. Elected members also have the option of either attending in person or via Zoom.
- Is Council aware that it is the only Territorial
Authority under Covid Alert Level 2 to exclude the public from attending
Council & Committee meetings and does council believe it is upholding the
Open, Transparent and Public accountability provisions in the relevant Local
complies with all parts of section 47A of the Local Government Official Information
and Meetings Act:
47A Modifications to section 47 while epidemic notice in force for COVID-19
(1) For the purposes of section 47, open to the public means that the local authority –
(a) if it is reasonably practicable, enables access to the meeting by broadcasting live the audio or video of the meeting (for example, by broadcasting it on an Internet site); and
(b) does 1 or both of the following as soon as practicable after the meeting ends:
(i) makes an audio or a video recording of the meeting available on its Internet site:
(ii) makes a written summary of the business of the meeting available on its Internet site.
(2) The local authority must provide the live broadcast, and make the recording or summary available, free of charge.
You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.
Publication of responses to LGOIMA requests
Please note: Our LGOIMA responses may be published on the Rotorua Lakes Council website after they have been responded to, with requesters’ personal details withheld. If you have any concerns about this please contact the Council on firstname.lastname@example.org.