Kaipara commissioner stays behind to sort out outstanding court cases

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Former Kaipara District Council commissioner Peter Winder has been retained to manage outstanding legal issues including a long-running court case involving Mangawhai ratepayers.

He was one of three commissioners appointed by the Government in September 2012 to help Kaipara resolve its $80 million debt that arose from the controversial wastewater scheme, and other serious governance issues.

Former National MP John Robertson was the chairman of commissioners while Titoki farmer Richard Booth and Colin Dale were the other commissioners.

Mr Dale quit in February 2014 to concentrate on his role as the acting chief executive of the Far North District Council.

Mr Robertson said the work of commissioners finished on Thursday- a day after election results were officially finalised- but Mr Winder would work in his new role as the crown manager.

"He's got a good local government background and he'll direct the lawyers as far as outstanding legal issues are concerned," he said.

There were two cases before the High Court and the Employment Court, he said, that would hopefully be resolved by the end of the year or early next year.

The High Court proceeding relates to an application for judicial review by the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents' Association, its chairman, Bruce Rogan, and his wife, Heather.

In an interim decision released last month, Justice Ailsa Duffy ruled the Northland Regional Council (NRC) rates for Kaipara have not been lawfully set or assessed for six years.

Her final decision concerns an appeal by the Rogans from a judgment by Whangarei District Court judge Keith de Ridder last year which ordered the couple to pay more than $20,000 in outstanding rates and penalties.

Also pending is an Employment Court case between KDC and its former chief executive, Jack McKerchar, over his handling of the wastewater scheme.

The commissioners running the council voted to pursue Mr McKerchar through the courts for his handling of the "botched" system that was initially estimated to cost $10.8 million.

The matter is expected to be heard next month.

- Northern Advocate

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