Kaipara Mayor Greg Gent and Deputy Mayor Peter Wethey have reacted with “disappointment” over a decision to withdraw Crown Manager, Peter Winder, from the Kaipara District Council and plan to pursue continued government assistance.
Mr Winder, a former council commissioner, was appointed after the last local body elections to assist the incoming council with pre-existing legal matters arising from the Mangawhai wastewater cost blowout and subsequent rates dispute and court action.
He has now been removed from his position by the Associate Minister of Local Government Jacqui Dean who announced the decision last week.
Mayor Gent said he had “no appetite (for council) to get involved in historic legal matters,” which he regarded as the government’s responsibility. Ms Dean said that her decision was “because of technical uncertainties about Mr Winder’s appointment.
“The Kaipara District Council is transitioning well back to local governance, led by the strong leadership of the locally-elected mayor and councillors. It is unfortunate I have to withdraw Peter Winder from his appointment as Crown Manager to the council.”
The decision “was not a reflection of his actions but is due to technical uncertainties.
“Following an evaluation of assistance to the council, there are concerns about potential technical flaws with the appointment and terms of reference. This does not bring into question prior actions of the Crown Manager, but if the role continued there would be uncertainty about the legality of future actions.” Mayor Gent said his council “is obviously very disappointed that this situation has arisen.
“I stood for mayor with the understanding that past legal disputes would be handled by the Crown Manager, although KDC would be paying the bills.
That would allow the new council to concentrate on the future. Deputy mayor, Peter Wethey is in the same situation.
“We now wait to see what assistance the government will give us in this space as we have no appetite to get involved in these historic legal matters. We do accept that Kaipara will have to continue to pay the ongoing legal costs in this regard but want the decision-making to sit with the Crown as was originally intended. Peter and I will continue to work with the minister to find a solution that is workable for both parties.”
Ms Dean said “the withdrawal is not a reflection on the performance of the council, nor was this issue created by the council (which is) performing well and in an effective manner. However, there is still a need for ongoing support to address the issues of the past.
“I want to assure the Kaipara community that the government is committed to supporting the council. My officials are working with the council to explore options for providing ongoing support.”