Council enforcer faces contract loss

By Alexandra Newlove

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Keith Thompson - seen here rescuing a dog from a stream last June - has enforced parking, barking and noise rules in Whangarei for 20 years.
Keith Thompson - seen here rescuing a dog from a stream last June - has enforced parking, barking and noise rules in Whangarei for 20 years.

The local company which has enforced the rules around parking, barking and parties in Whangarei for the past 20 years looks set to lose its contract.

Whangarei District Council is about to award its regulatory services contract - worth about $1.1 million a year - and the Advocate understands the new contractor is not the incumbent Environmental Northland.

Instead, the Advocate understands the council will employ Armourguard to run the contract. The company was contacted yesterday and asked for comment but had not responded by edition time. The contract is procured jointly with Kaipara District Council.

Environmental Northland employed 18 staff and was owned and run by Maungatapere couple Carol and Keith Thompson. Mr Thompson declined to comment when contacted by the Advocate.

It is understood at least some of these staff will be re-employed by the new contractor.

Mr Thompson had been an outspoken and at times controversial figure during his tenure. He had spoken in the media regularly about the difficult aspects of the job, particularly the distress caused to himself and staff by the poor treatment of animals.

WDC did not want to release too much information, given they were still going through the procurement process.

"The existing contract is due to expire in June this year," said WDC chief executive Rob Forlong. "We called for registrations of interest in the contract in October last year. Four parties bid for the contract.

"The process is still under way and we will provide more information as soon it is complete."

The decision on who the contract is issued to rested with councillors, as the value of it was outside the delegated authority of staff.

ENL's contract was last renewed in 2011 for $3,336,000 for a three-year period plus a $36,000 annual bonus for good performance. It was then extended for another two years at the discretion of council.

At the time, staff reported ENL was performing well and acknowledged the work carried out by the contractor was at the "coal face" of council's relationship with the community.

The services provided under the contract included animal control, excessive noise control, parking and bylaw enforcement and the inspection of swimming pool fencing.

- Northern Advocate

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