Westland District Council chief executive Tanya Winter has been suspended after allegations of misconduct related to wastewater contracts.

Winter had previously taken a personal grievance claim against the council.

Winter will be replaced temporarily from tomorrow by former chief executive Robin Reeves, whom she took over from in 2012 after ongoing complaints about the state of the council affairs.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said today the decision to suspend Winter, effective from 9am today, related to her allegedly withholding from the councillors and mayor, information about possible fraudulent activity.

Winter called in the Serious Fraud Office earlier this year to investigate concerns around assets group manager Vivek Goel.

Goel had sourced his own contractor, Techno Economic Services, to build a $7m wastewater treatment plant. Techno Economic Services was reportedly run and operated by Neha Bubna, a South Auckland cake decorator.

Before he was elected last October, Smith said publicly that he would be making changes at the top and that "feathers would fly".

Immediately after the incoming council took office, it clipped Winter's wings by capping management expenditure at just $5000, down from $250,000.

In February, the council announced that Winter's contract would not be renewed and that councillors had decided to publicly advertise her job instead. Her five-year contract is due to expire in September.

As a result, Winter lodged a personal grievance claim against the council.

The suspension of the chief executive is the latest disruption to the executive team, with assets group manager Goel still on leave pending the outcome of the SFO investigation, and the departure last month of corporate services manager Gary Borg. The only member of the executive team still standing is planning, environment and community group manager Jim Ebenhoh.

- Hokitika Guardian

Advertisement