'Outspoken' councillor faces censure

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 10:55 23/07/2014
Jackie Elliott
Supplied
CENSURED: Jackie Elliott.

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An outspoken councillor called a colleague "loathsome" and "vindictive" and also cost the council $10,000 after an employment dispute, an investigation has heard.

Kapiti Coast District councillor Jackie Elliott faces censure after a panel found she twice breached a code of conduct.

The council will vote tomorrow on the panel's recommendations.

The panel met last week and recommended censuring Elliott after finding she breached the code on two of the three complaints raised by fellow councillor Murray Bell.

The first relates to an email sent to councillor Diane Ammundsen in a dispute over the council's public arts panel, of which Elliott is a member.

The complaints panel found Elliott described Ammundsen as vindictive and loathsome in the email. It did not accept Elliott's explanation the terms were used to describe the council as an institution, but in finding she breached the code it recommended no action be taken.

The panel also found Elliott breached the code in the second complaint involving an email to a staff member in which she was alleged to have threatened to go to media if she did not receive requested information.

In upholding the complaint the panel found Elliott failed to show appropriate courtesy and respect, and was aggressive towards the staff member. It recommended Elliott be censured.

The panel found there was no breach in the third complaint, involving a media release from Elliott.

Mayor Ross Church said several months earlier Elliott publicly criticised a staff member, which left the council taking legal advice, apologising to the employee and paying the combined legal bills.

He said he understood the total legal cost would be about $10,000 for the council from the incident.

Church said councillors would vote tomorrow whether to accept the panel's recommendations.

He said councillors could always say what they thought and were elected to do that.

"But you have to treat people with respect and dignity and you can't overstep the lines of good behaviour, and it appears that's what the panel found as well," he said.

However Elliott said the process had been a waste of $15,000 in rates to cover the investigation.

"It's a shame the mayor couldn't have come to that conclusion by sitting down with Murray Bell and myself and facilitating a resolution to whatever problems Mr Bell had," she said.

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