Council complaint getting personal

By Staff Reporter

4 comments

A determination to press on with a code of conduct complaint has been termed "political grandstanding" by the Whanganui district councillor at the centre of the dispute.

Councillor Ray Stevens has lodged the complaint against fellow councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan.

Mr Stevens complained that at a council meeting on December 15, Mrs Baker-Hogan said council infrastructure manager Mark Hughes was "biased".

Mrs Baker-Hogan has since withdrawn her comments of bias and council colleagues have accepted her retraction but Mr Stevens has written to council chief executive Kym Fell indicating he would be pressing on with the code of conduct complaint.

The next step is to refer the complaint to the Whanganui branch of the New Zealand Law Society asking for an independent review.

Last week Mrs Baker-Hogan said she had refrained from attacking Mr Stevens over "this ridiculous code of conduct complaint" and offered a way out for him by withdrawing her comments of bias. "Council has voted on and accepted my withdrawal," she said.

"The fact that councillor Stevens has taken no cognisance of this in his insistence to proceed through a disruptive and costly code of conduct leans itself to the worst kind of political grandstanding ... at the ratepayers' expense," she said.

Her comment of "bias" was made when council heard Mr Hughes reply to a question from councillor Rob Vinsen about the culvert in Wikitoria Rd.

Four homes in Onotere Drive sustained an estimated $1million worth of damage in the June floods, when the Awarua Stream behind their properties overflowed. Mrs Baker-Hogan said residents in the Wikitoria Rd area had suffered with their homes flooded and all the stress and hardship that involved.

"Yet all councillor Stevens can think of is attacking a colleague, under the pretence of protecting a manager who had every chance to speak for himself and appears to have a view completely contrary to previous reports on solutions to the Wikitoria Rd culvert."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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