Councillor gives up free tickets
A third New Plymouth councillor has now turned his back on $498 worth of Womad tickets.
On Wednesday the Taranaki Daily News revealed at least nine district councillors had accepted a three-day double pass to Womad, despite axing a $400,000 fund previously used to underwrite the event.
Keith Allum originally accepted two three-day passes, valued at $249 each, but yesterday told the Daily News he had returned the tickets.
He said he forgot to tell the council's manager of democratic services, Julie Straka, who keeps a register of gifts given to elected councillors.
"When they were handed out I didn't think there was any conflict of interest, but once I thought about it and spoke to Gordon Brown and others, I thought about the public perception so I handed them back," he said.
Although Mr Allum maintains he does not believe accepting the tickets is a conflict of interest he thought it was best to give them back.
Womad is a great event, he said, run by a very professional team, and depending on the weather he would buy his own ticket to one of the days this weekend.
"I'm sure Suzanne Porter can organise some good weather for us, she's great at organising things," he said.
Councillor Shaun Biesiek last year gave away his free tickets to someone who had "a hard year with cancer", but said he would most likely attend this year.
"We are elected to represent the district and this means meeting and mingling with sponsors that help support Taft and Womad," he said.
"We are there in the capacity as councillors, selling our district."
Mr Biesiek said if he was offered free front row seats to a concert he would not accept them, as he would not be working in the same role as he did when we was at Womad.
Councillor Marie Pearce, who is a board member of Taft, said the event was an important one for New Plymouth and all councillors should be attending.
She was given councillor tickets but said she had given them to "someone deserving", as she also had free tickets from her role on the board.
Mayor Andrew Judd
Taranaki Daily News