A Waikato regional councillor has been banned from speaking to most council staff after his rant in a corridor left some employees in tears.
In a rare move Waikato Regional Council chairman Rimmington has written to councillor Fred Lichtwark telling him he can only liaise with the chief executive or council director relating to his council portfolios until further notice.
Lichtwark told the Herald it was a "storm in a teacup" and he had thrown a tantrum in the corridor on the way to the toilet last Thursday over general frustration.
The second-term councillor had just finished speaking with democracy staff about releasing a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request about him because it was exempt under the act if it was going to used for vindictive and malicious reasons. He told them he believed this was the case because the request was from someone he had been involved in an ongoing dispute with.
He said he walked away ranting about "this bloody council". It was not aimed at any particular staff member.
"I wasn't angry at anyone. It was just the process. In this job you can be guilty for doing bugger all just because someone assumes you might be doing it you get in the crap."
He has since apologised if he did offend anyone and said he thinks staff were most upset that he had told them he was more concerned about them releasing incorrect information than their KPIs.
"I'm not playing petty politics. I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't abused any staff. I was noisy going into the bathroom and someone has overheard that and made a deal over it and it's nothing."
He did not believe his new restrictions would change how he did his job.
Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington confirmed he and the deputy chair met with Litchwark after an incident where he had raised his voice and upset staff.
As a result Lichtwark was now only allowed to speak with the director relating to his community restoration portfolio. Any other questions for staff had to be directed through the chief executive or chairman until further notice unless it was during a formal meeting.
"He's just got to ensure that he harnesses and narrows his questions and contact with the immediate staff that are in his portfolios."
Rimmington said he was a good councillor, but headstrong with strong opinions.
"We've resolved it and I expect better conduct from Fred and he's assured me he will do that. I think he's an outstanding councillor but he sometimes gets a bit overenthusiastic and he has to harness his enthusiasm and ensure all people are addressed appropriately."
Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne confirmed some staff members had been reduced to tears after the outburst.
Payne said the chief executive had the legislated right to manage communications between councillors and staff as required.
"While councillor Lichtwark has unreservedly apologised for the incident, the chief executive has a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of staff and as such action was required. The chair agrees."
The restrictions will be reviewed next month.
In March, Lichtwark made headlines after he installed a blunt sign at the entrance of Raglan telling people who didn't live there to go home. The sign was removed within 24 hours by district council staff, claiming it did not show kindness.
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