North Shore Mayor drank two bottles - bar staff

BY JONATHAN MARSHALL
Last updated 16:52 29/03/2010
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams
Photo: Grahame Cox
EMBATTLED: Andrew Williams.

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Bar staff who served embattled North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams on the night he urinated in public say the civic leader drank two bottles of wine - without a meal.

Mr Williams is facing increasing pressure to stand down from his role after the Sunday Star-Times revealed he had drunk alcohol for several hours at Takapuna's GPK last Thursday. On his way to collect his mayoral vehicle, which he drove 6km home, he urinated against a tree outside council offices.

Today a defiant Mr Williams said he had no plans to resign despite calls to do so from Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and several councillors who said the latest incident is proof the mayor needed to seek professional help.

Mr Williams admitted to the New Zealand Herald that he did drive home after drinking "a very minimal" quantity of red wine between 6pm and 9.30pm.

But the Sunday Star-Times spoke with two staff the day before the newspaper's story was published, and asked how much liquor the mayor consumed. "He had two bottles," a waitress who served Williams, and did not want to be named, said.

"The first bottle he shared with [one other person]. He had the second bottle. And said he was on TV at six...the [next] morning."

Later in the conversation, she reiterated: "I sold him two bottles of wine."

The staff member said Mr Williams arrived at 4pm and didn't leave once until around 10pm. "Just sipping on those bottles," said the staff member. The Star-Times obtained a copy of the bill from GPK showing Williams was drinking Porters Syrah.

The waitress was visibly surprised when told that Mr Williams drove home last Thursday. "I'm not saying anything, I don't know if he taxied or not."

She said Williams did not pay for his wine; a friend purchased it for him.

Land Transport NZ spokesman Andy Knackstedt would not comment specifically on Mr Williams' case, but when told he had drunk two bottles of wine without a meal, he said: "Your ability to drive after one drink decreases and the more you drink it keeps deteriorating."

Mr Williams did not return calls but told Radio New Zealand the criticism against him was "toxic and vindictive".

The Sunday Star-Times said one of its reporters followed Mr Williams from the  Takapuna bar and saw him urinate outside his council building before driving away.

Mr Williams said he spent about 3-1/2 hours in the GPK bar in Takapuna and consumed a minimal quantity of red wine with food.

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"I went to GPK at the conclusion of council business. This is my private time. These are friends who just want to meet up, have a bit of a yarn and catch up on things," Mr Williams told The New Zealand Herald. "They don't have to get involved with the mayor's business. They were acquaintances who invited me, end of story."

Mr Williams has said he has no comment to make on the public urination allegations, but said he wasn't over the alcohol limit when he drove, the New Zealand Press Association reported today.

The Sunday Star-Times said later on Thursday night he sent an email to senior council staff saying he had "utter contempt" for Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and Housing Minister Maurice Williamson for the "rape and pillage" of the North Shore council.

Mr Williams, who has six months of his term remaining, said he was being singled out by political opponents who were unhappy he was questioning the process of the super city local government reform in Auckland.

Mr Hide has said it was time for Mr Williams to go, and The New Zealand Herald said five North Shore councillors and another five local politicians have signed a letter asking him to resign.

"He has really tarnished the reputation of the North Shore in many ways," Councillor Ann Hartley told Radio New Zealand. "This is just the latest. It has gone on for 2-1/2 years and he really is a laughing stock, it doesn't matter where you go."

Councillor Chris Darby said the incident reported on Sunday was the "last straw."

"We've witnessed this sort of belligerent behaviour for a long period and it's our job to stand up and not condone this activity. It's well documented," he told Radio New Zealand. Mr Darby said the council had much work to do in the lead-up to the establishment of the Auckland Council in October.

 "It's difficult to do this work when the first topic of conversation when you're dealing with regional politicians is 'what's up with the Mayor'?"

One of Mr Williams' supporters, Councillor Jan O'Connor, told Radio New Zealand she wished Mr Williams' opponents "could just beat up on somebody else for a change".

Mr Williams was in headlines recently for sending texts in the early hours of the morning to Prime Minister John Key. He said they were expressing his views on the super city but Mr Key labelled them aggressive and obnoxious.

- Sunday Star Times

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