Outspoken councillor subject of 'witch-hunt'

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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The Kapiti Coast District Council is investigating allegations that outspoken councillor Jackie Elliott has breached its elected members code of conduct.

Councillor Murray Bell has laid three complaints against Elliott for alleged breaches of protocol.

The Dominion Post has been told the council has budgeted $10,000 to $15,000 for the process.

The complaints involve emails sent to a councillor and a staff member, and a press release. Elliott has been accused of being factually incorrect, using unwarranted and threatening language and "going to the media to complain", which the complaint said was "a form of bullying and could be seen as blackmail".

Elliott rejects the complaints.

"If councillors agreed with each other all the time we would not be doing our job properly . . . Kapiti residents have had enough of that over the past six years," she said.

"I am very proud of the job I am doing as a councillor and the public tell me this all the time. I have worked hard and achieved small but positive changes."

She hoped the complaint would be withdrawn before she appeared before the panel. She also hoped the chief executive, mayor and councillors involved would apologise to her.

"It has been awful, stressful and unwarranted. A mayor would normally sit down with councillors, have a discussion, sort issues out and shake hands," she said.

The panel, comprising councillors Mike Cardiff and Janet Holborow and a senior lawyer, has interviewed councillors and Elliott is due to appear before it next week.

Elliott ran a campaign against water meters, collecting an 8000-signature petition calling for a referendum, which was refused by the former council.

Kapiti regional councillor Nigel Wilson, who is assisting Elliott through the process, said the spat was trivial.

"There are councillors who want to conduct a witch-hunt at enormous public expense, which is objectionable."

Wilson said Elliott "did her research" and was cregarded highly at regional council level.

Mayor Ross Church confirmed an investigation was under way but would not comment further at this stage.

 

ALLEGED BREACHES

Complaints laid against councillor Jackie Elliott

"Relationships with other councillors" – based on an email from Elliott to councillor Diane Ammundsen. Claims the basis of an accusation was factually incorrect and language used towards another councillor was unwarranted and unprofessional.

"Relationships with staff" – based on an email from Elliott to a KCDC staff member. Claims threatening language was used and she was "going to the media to complain". The complaint stated this was a form of blackmail, which "could be considered to be bullying".

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"A press release [about water meter billing]" – the complaint said a press release issued by Elliott criticised the behaviour of council staff. "Does not state it is a personal view only and does not state it is a minority view."

- The Dominion Post

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