Call for George to face hearing

STRIPPED: Waitara councillor Sherril George.
STRIPPED: Waitara councillor Sherril George.

Contentious councillor Sherril George appears to have alienated her colleagues with her latest flareup with top brass.

Comments made by Ms George in a letter to the Taranaki Daily News about three top-level resignations have raised the ire of Mayor Harry Duynhoven and many of her fellow councillors.

She could now face a hearing to establish if she breached the council's code of conduct and the majority of councillors spoken to by the Daily News yesterday believed she should be censured.

Ms George had stated the common thread in the departures was a "small person with a big ego".

Senior councillor Heather Dodunski said Ms George's letter had broken the rules.

"I definitely think that she has breached the code and I think that she knows she has but she's just not interested in working with the councillors, she just wants to do her own thing," Ms Dodunski said.

She added that she had been kept informed of the resignations: " . . . and councillor George has been present when we've received those briefings so for her to say that she has not been aware of them, that's of concern."

Maurice Betts said councillors had spent considerable time at a retreat workshop ironing out the issues around airing personal opinions in relation to the operations of the council and all understood the boundaries.

"I'm extremely disappointed that this has now surfaced again," he said.

"I've taken the opportunity of going and speaking with the officers and with the CEO myself, that wasn't difficult, I wasn't refused it and I got all of the information I wanted."

Howie Tamati believed Ms George should face a hearing although she had not named Ms Thurston in her letter.

"It was obvious that she was referring to Cathy Thurston," Mr Tamati said.

"I don't think it is a very good look for our organisation or the district."

Shaun Biesiek questioned whether Ms George had mentioned names in her letter.

"If she is seen to have broken the code of conduct on this matter then I believe appropriate action is a move of censure at the next council meeting," Mr Biesiek said.

"This simply will be a vote that the comments breached the code and we censure them and as a council do not support or agree with them."

He said every question he had asked of Mrs McKerrow had been answered but he believed a full briefing was required.

"I believe a full briefing of councillors with the mayor and CEO is needed on the issues that have been raised and this will of course need to be public excluded."

Andrew Judd said the code had been breached in his view.

"There is a more professional way on how this should be done and there are standards around how we interface with management and these standards have to be observed," Mr Judd said.

Alex Matheson and Phil Quinney declined to comment.

"That's a matter that will be discussed within the council; it is an internal matter," Mr Matheson said.

Marie Pearce said she could understand the interest in the issue. "It is a council matter and I guess it will be dealt with at a council meeting," Mrs Pearce said.

Pauline Lockett said any allegation of a breach of the code must be in writing, make a specific allegation and provide collaborating evidence.

She would not say if she believed Ms George had breached the code.

Craig McFarlane was out of the country and unaware of the issue when contacted by the Daily News yesterday.

Councillors Lance Girling-Butcher, John (Horse) McLeod and Lynn Bublitz could not be contacted by the Daily Newsyesterday.

The Daily News was told the correct forum to address Mrs McKerrow's management of staff was her annual performance review.

Taranaki Daily News