I'm not going - defiant mayor digs in

By Bernard Orsman

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A defiant North Shore Mayor, Andrew Williams, has denied he has a drinking problem and says he will not resign after allegedly urinating in public and driving home after drinking at a local restaurant.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald yesterday, Mr Williams said he did drink alcohol, but he did not drink excessively. "I'm like any other normal Kiwi male. I'm very mindful of being reasonable."

Mr Williams, who was at GPK bar and restaurant on Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna, with friends on Thursday night, said he consumed a "very minimal" quantity of red wine with food from about 6pm to 9.30pm.

"I went to GPK at the conclusion of council business. This is my private time. These are friends who just want to meet up, have a bit of a yarn and catch up on things. They don't have to get involved with the mayor's business. They were acquaintances who invited me, end of story."

Mr Williams admitted he drove home after drinking, but said he had "no comment" to make about reports that after leaving the bar, he urinated outside the North Shore council building on The Strand.

The Sunday Star Times reported yesterday that Mr Williams had been drinking at the bar and restaurant for about six hours.

The paper said he walked from the bar to the council offices, where he urinated on a tree.

He then went into the council underground carpark, collected his mayoral vehicle and drove about 6km to his Campbells Bay home.

He said he was "perfectly fine" and "very conscious of the fact I had to be up very early to be at the TV3 studios by 6am".

But pressure was building last night for Mr Williams to resign.

Glenfield Community Board member Nick Kearney asked councillors and community board members to join him in calling for the mayor to step down.

Mr Kearney said he had the signatures of five councillors - Chris Darby, Dianne Hale, Ann Hartley, Margaret Miles and Lisa Whyte - and five community board members on a letter calling on Mr Williams to go.

It will be presented to council chief executive John Brockies today.

A mayor cannot be fired as he is an elected official.

The five councillors who signed the letter are not part of Mr Williams' 'A' team of nine councillors who hold all the important committee jobs.

One of the signatories, Ms Hartley, a former Labour MP, said Mr Williams' behaviour last Thursday summed up the past two-and-a-half years.

"We have had to put up with a lot of very questionable behaviour from the mayor," she said.

"He is quite a bullying person and gets away with it because he has his 'A' team who support him 90 per cent of the time."

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has also expressed concern at Mr Williams' alleged conduct.

Mr Hide said if the allegations of drinking and driving were true, Mr Williams was not fit to hold office and should examine his options.

He said Mr Williams might be a danger to himself and others.

Mayor Williams hit back yesterday, saying that Mr Hide simply did not like his opposition to the Super City reforms.

The letter being circulated by Mr Kearney was part of a dirty tricks campaign, the mayor said.

He said he was sick to his back teeth of Mr Kearney, who in another role as secretary of the Act Party was doing Mr Hide's "dirty work".

Mr Williams said political opponents were also trying to undermine his work on leaky homes and a report he presented on Friday showing the Government stood to gain $2 billion from house repairs.

"It's the same old pattern. They can't defend the indefensible so they say, 'Right, let's get some of the heavies to discredit this guy'," he said.

Mr Hide said he did not mind Mr Williams' robust criticism of the Super City but was worried about a person who was in denial about the reforms.

It has also emerged that after Mr Williams arrived home on Thursday night, he sent an email, at 11.37pm, to senior staff about a visit to the council the next day by Mr Hide and Acting Housing Minister Maurice Williamson.

"These two individuals deserve any and all appropriate comments in relation to this rape and pillage of the North Shore by this Auckland takeover," the email said.

The Thursday night incident is the latest controversy for the first-term mayor.

In December, Prime Minister John Key described texts from Mr Williams as "aggressive" and "obnoxious". They were sometimes sent as late as 3.30am.

In August 2008, the mayor collapsed at a Devonport Naval Base function and lashed out at ambulance officers who took him to North Shore Hospital.

He blamed the incident on dehydration and exhaustion from an overseas trip.

Another councillor, Jan O'Connor, said she had confidence in Mr Williams, saying the allegations that appeared in the Sunday Star Times were "about as low as you get".

She did not condone men who urinated outside bars in Takapuna, but said Mr Williams would have been in the dark at the council.

"If he was up there and he watered a tree, he watered a tree."

- NZ Herald

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