Witt council pressed to explain Handley decision

Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
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Vote for no confidence: Peter Mischefski facilitated a public forum at New Plymouth Boys' High School last night.

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A small but vehement crowd attended a public meeting last night to voice their opinions on the Witt council's decision not to renew chief executive Richard Handley's contract.

About 20 people turned out to the public forum held at the New Plymouth Boys' High School Ryder Hall.

The group included Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki students, staff, business community members, and the general public.

Witt council members were invited but none was present.

Mr Handley was not present nor was New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young.

At the forum, facilitated by Peter Mischefski, there was frustration at the lack of information from the Witt council about the reasoning behind its decision not to extend Mr Handley's contract.

Speaking on behalf of the Engineering Taranaki Consortium, Pace Engineering managing director Steve Day said the lack of communication from the Witt council on the matter was disappointing.

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce member Jim Bennett, of M&O Pacific, said the chamber was at a loss as to why Mr Handley's contract had not been extended.

"What we would like to be made aware of is where has that decision come from not to renew Richard's contract."

One speaker questioned whether the council's actions were in accordance with the Education Act.

The Education Act 1989 says the council has a duty to encourage community participation and have concern for the public interest and for student welfare.

John Lawson, a Witt staff member of 18 years, said staff had no confidence in the Witt council.

"The council does not have the confidence of its staff so how can it govern," Mr Lawson said yesterday.

A vote of no confidence in Witt council was supported by everybody at the meeting except for one person.

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