Council want to charge for info

Eltham man Mark Kelly will now have to pay for information he seeks over the dumping of millions of litres of milk products near his neighbourhood.

Last year, Fonterra dumped about 3 million litres of milk byproduct and 150,000 litres of tainted milk into the Eltham waste water facility, causing a putrid smell.

In the months since, Mark Kelly has been on a crusade to find out what happened.

"It's not so much the smell now, but the lack of accountability," he said.

Last week, Kelly received a letter from the council which informed him any future requests for information made under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act would be liable to a fee.

South Taranaki District Council corporate services group manager Phillippa Wilson said so far council had completed Kelly's previous requests on time and without charge.

His repeated requests under the act had required "many, many hours of staff time to complete," she said.

Wilson said it was council policy to provide the first hour free of charge but it had the ability to charge $45 an hour should requests take longer to complete.

"This charge mainly covers staff time and photocopying costs."

Kelly said he was undecided whether to pay but he would try to do all he could to get the answers he felt he and others deserved.

"They seem to forget they're public servants."

Taranaki Daily News