Councillor’s “serious breach of code of conduct” addressed at public meeting

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 02, 2023 |

[UPDATED AT 3.04PM: Updated with council resolutions]

The Christchurch City Council has addressed Aaron Keown’s “serious breach of the Code of Conduct” in a swift discussion today.

An external investigator ruled he committed the breach after comments made on his public Facebook page.

In March, Keown criticised the hearing panel process for the side streets proposal around the Christchurch stadium.

He stated, “I deliberately did not go on this hearings panel because when I saw who was on it, I knew what the recommendation would be at the end. This is exactly what happened on Harewood Road, the panel is stacked to get the outcome.”

Keown further added, “Why waste everybody’s time and council money ‘consulting’ when you are going to chase your ideology anyway? I’m more than happy to tell anyone the real reason why this is being pushed through now if they ask. I will get in trouble for this post, but I cannot stand by watching another charade.”

In her letter of complaint, Sara Templeton wrote, “for several years, Cr Keown has not adhered to a key part of the Code of Conduct, namely, ‘media [including social media] comments must observe the other requirements of the Code; for example, comments should not criticise or compromise the impartiality or integrity of staff; or be derogatory in respect of another elected member, and media comments must not be misleading and should be accurate within the bounds of reasonableness.'”

Aaron Keown chose not to participate in mediation, which prompted the investigation.

In a council meeting today, Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger said “a breach of the code is a serious matter and we must address it properly, because this is not something that we want to re-litigate again.

Celeste Donovan was the only councillor to comment saying today was about “raising the bar about how we handle things going forward around this table and actually making sure that we are here speaking about the issues that we all have to address and some significant issues we have coming to this table and not getting distracted by sort of some of these side issues which I think are playing out on social media.

I just want to make sure that we hold ourselves to a high standard. And then includes comments on social media.”

Councillor Keown was invited to comment, but declined to speak.

Mauger said “we have to accept that when we come into council and when we disagree, we should explain why and not attack who we disagree with.”

Phil Mauger and Deputy Mayor Pauline Cotter ruled that the Mayor will write a letter of censure to Councillor Keown in response to the conclusion of the report,  request Councillor Keown make a personal apology to the staff named in the report and the Te Kaha Streets Hearing Panel, note that any staff performance questions or concerns should be raised through the Chief Executive and note that breaches of the code of conduct reflect on the whole of Council and undermine the integrity of other processes.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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