Defiant critic prompts councillors' walkout

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014
Evans
KAY BLUNDELL/Fairfax NZ

LAST MAN STANDING: Dale Evans in the empty council chambers after the walkout. He had earlier told the council and mayor the community was fed up.

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A Kapiti Coast District Council meeting was suspended and police called to evict a public speaker when he demanded the resignation of the mayor and chief executive.

Vocal council critic Dale Evans told the meeting the community was getting fed up with the "unacceptable" performance of council staff and elected councillors. "The CE has to go for his never-ending bad performance in all aspects of his job."

There was an outcry from the chamber, and mayor Ross Church thumped the table and told Mr Evans he would be asked to leave. "That is not acceptable," Mr Church said.

Mr Evans retaliated, "Call the police then, it is my right to speak," to which Mr Church replied, "It is not your right to speak in the way you do."

Mr Church then told councillors and staff to leave the chamber, and they filed out. Deputy mayor Mike Cardiff stayed briefly to try to broker a peace, and councillor Michael Scott also left a short time later.

Council staff member Tamsin Evans, accompanied by Mr Church and chief executive Pat Dougherty, approached Mr Evans, asked him to leave and left the room when he refused.

He remained standing in the cleared room, with a couple of people watching agog from the public gallery.

After about 10 minutes, Kapiti regional councillor Nigel Wilson persuaded him to leave the building to "have a cup of tea".

"It is always disappointing when the public voice is silenced," Mr Wilson said. "The key thing for politicians is that you have to listen to the public.

"You might not like or agree with what they say, but democracy suffers if you do not listen."

The meeting resumed after Mr Evans left, and Mr Church - wearing a white anti-violence ribbon on his lapel - said he suspended the meeting because Mr Evans' comments were "disrespectful, bullying, offensive and harassment in terms of staff".

He told The Dominion Post that police had been called, and Senior Sergeant Anita Dixon had been on her way until Mr Evans left.

Later in the meeting, Mr Church also defended staff against an allegation by another member of the public that staff had been misleading him.

"I am tired of people coming into this public forum and attacking the staff," he said.

The meeting approved the council's draft annual plan for public consultation.

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- The Dominion Post

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