Cost of licensing trust by-election raises ire

Waitakere Licensing Trust is holding a by-election to the tune of $50,000 following the resignation of trustee Brian Neeson.

Mr Neeson has been successful in his application to become District Licensing Commissioner, which means he can legally no longer serve on the trust.

The trust is responsible for alcohol retail in the west with surplus profits going back to the community.

President Linda Cooper says the cost was avoidable and West Auckland communities will miss out on grants and sponsorships as a result. "He knew in May that he couldn't hold both positions and he would have known that in resigning from the trust he was putting the cost of a by-election on to the public of West Auckland," she says.

But Mr Neeson says he was unaware being a trustee was considered a conflict of interest for the commissioner's position.

He also says he couldn't have predicted that he would be re-elected as trustee.

"The fact of the matter is that it's happened. I've chosen to take the job. I've worked continuously over the last three years and the job that I'm going to do is going to be of benefit," he says.

"As a trustee I've done all I can for the trust. The position I have is one that will benefit us all.

"It will have a much bigger impact on the behaviour of the industry."

Both question why the next highest polling candidate couldn't step up instead. Mahendra Sharma was the only other candidate for ward 2 of the trust.

Mrs Cooper suggests the cost of the by-election should fall on the individual.

"Why should the public pay when a person resigns simply because it suits them to?"

Western Leader