Central Hawke's Bay councillor Andrew Watts has survived disciplinary action that would have seen him removed from the Building Consent Authority Review Committee.

Mr Watts was facing the council's conduct review committee (CRC) following a complaint made by chief executive John Freeman that the councillor had, through emailed correspondence, made defamatory and derogatory comments about him and called into question his integrity, managerial skills and professionalism.

The correspondence was about how BCARC was handling the audit of the building department, which is a result of dozens of complaints levelled at it, and Mr Freeman's role in the committee overseeing this process.

The CRC upheld Mr Freeman's complaint against Mr Watts and recommended to council that the councillor be removed from the BCARC.


The CRC's chairman is mayor Peter Butler. While the recommendation was put to councillors yesterday at their general meeting, no one rose to move it, so it wasn't voted on or carried.

Before the recommendation Mr Watts made a short statement apologising to Mr Freeman, saying he meant no offence him or to council staff.

He then excused himself so the council could vote.

During break Mr Watts said he was happy with the outcome of the council's decision.

"I think that they [the councillors] genuinely got the message that I was playing the game and the ball and not the man," he said. "I got it across - and I think they understood that."

Talking about the fact not one councillor sought to move the motion, Mr Butler said that was their prerogative.

"That was a council resolution, it's what the council [wanted], it's a democracy and it was unanimous," he said.

Looking to some of the correspondence that led up to Mr Freeman's complaint against Mr Watts, the latter asked, "what confidence can the councillors and the public have in the so-called 'independent' audit process that is effectively being run by the person who oversees the BCA?".

The CRC responded that it was an independent audit not being run by the chief executive, that Mr Freeman was an agent.

From here the council now waits for the audit process to take its course.