Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule rejects councillor's call for HDC CEO to resign

By Victoria White

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Gastro criticism: Calls have been made for Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod to resign. Photo/Warren Buckland
Gastro criticism: Calls have been made for Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod to resign. Photo/Warren Buckland

A call for the resignation of Hastings District Council's chief executive over the Havelock North gastro crisis will not be answered.

The district council is currently embroiled in the Government Inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination crisis, which caused 5200 people to become ill, and facing prosecution from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Charges were laid by the regional council for the unlawful taking of water, after its investigation into the contamination, and the condition of the Brookvale Bores, found evidence of a breach of the maintenance conditions of its resource consent.

On Tuesday an investigation report with these findings was put on the Inquiry website, but has since been taken down until a corrected one is uploaded.

Having seen the evidence, during a regional council meeting yesterday, Napier councillor Neil Kirton suggested Hastings chief executive Ross McLeod resign.

Although the cause of the crisis was yet to be determined by the Inquiry, and court, Mr Kirton said in his opinion, the evidence was "overwhelming".

"Now the Hastings District Council can run as much as they like, they cannot hide from the evidence," he said.

It showed the council's performance on monitoring their resource consent for the bores had been "nothing short of derelict", he said.

"I invite Mr McLeod from the Hastings District Council to view the video, to look at the evidence and then tender his resignation, because that is what the inevitable conclusion is when you read that evidence."

No comment from Mr McLeod was forthcoming yesterday.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule however said nobody would be resigning from the council yet.

If anybody needed to resign, this would be determined by the Inquiry, he said. If it was found the council, its staff, or an organisational regime had been responsible for the contamination, then they would address culpability.

"But at this stage I'm not interested and nor do I think it's fair [for] a public official to ... publicly say in a council meeting that somebody should resign."

Having seen the investigation report, Mr Yule said the district council had an "absolutely different theory" to how the contamination occurred, to what was suggested by the regional council.

They would be putting this view to the Inquiry, and the prosecution.

Yesterday Mr Kirton also said the regional council did not come out of the situation "scot-free" either, as it was clear the monitoring regime in place for these consents was "deficient".

"5200 people in Havelock North were greatly inconvenienced and were exposed to something they should never have been exposed to, should the Hastings District Council have met its obligations to the public," he said, "in our role we should have been all over them like a rash a long time ago."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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