George offers to smoke the peace pipe

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

Councillor Sherril George has offered an olive branch to Mayor Harry Duynhoven and praised him for holding a meeting to discuss the council's employment issues.

Her gesture brings to an end a week of high tension at the New Plymouth District Council, during which she was stripped of her council responsibilities for breaching its code of conduct.

All but two of her fellow councillors agreed last week that Ms George had breached the code through a letter to the editor of the Taranaki Daily News and she was booted off four boards and committees.

Her letter came in response to a string of high-profile resignations and Mr Duynhoven said it was an attack on community services general manager Cathy Thurston.

But yesterday Ms George said she was delighted Mr Duynhoven was giving councillors the opportunity to have their questions answered.

"Finally, after all of the trauma and trials and tribulations and bad behaviour it's turned out to be a positive and we can sit down and discuss these issues," she said.

She said it was satisfying that common sense had finally prevailed. "We can work together and achieve the good outcomes that we all want. That's all I asked for in the first place."

But last night Mr Duynhoven said the meeting was not intended to discuss the resignations specifically.

He said the purpose of Tuesday's meeting, which would include councillors and the executive team, was to reinforce the responsibilities the council had under law and remind councillors of proper procedures.

He said if councillors had questions that dealt with general issues, they would be answered.

"We will not be discussing specific individuals."

He said he had given councillors every opportunity to come forward with any questions they had regarding the resignations.

But Ms George claimed she had previously emailed chief executive Barbara McKerrow asking for information about the resignations but had received no answers.

"I have been trying on behalf of my community who were asking me why it was happening, how is it happening, because it doesn't happen like that normally."

Mr Duynhoven said this was no excuse to act in the way that Ms George did.

He said the council's turnover of staff was lower than that of most councils in the country.

"Certainly some government departments would be delighted to keep their staff as long as the NPDC."

People left jobs for a variety of reasons, including better offers elsewhere or for personal reasons, he said.

Taranaki Daily News