Ratepayer bullied - deputy mayor

17:00, Aug 24 2012

A ratepayer has been "harassed and bullied" by the Waimate District Council, the deputy mayor says.

Keith Williams was taken to court by the council over building work done on a wall at his garage, known as Dash's Garage, but the case was thrown out as the council's chief executive did not have the proper authority to lay the charges. The case has already cost Waimate ratepayers more than $50,000, and now Mr Williams is seeking costs.

It has since emerged the dispute, which has been running for 18 months, could potentially have been settled with a $287 determination by the Building and Housing Department.

Deputy mayor Peter McIlraith said yesterday mayor John Coles could have stopped the costly matter proceeding to court.

"The decision to go to court was created through the council management and staff and the only one who was most able to change it was the mayor."

He took issue with the mayor saying after the matter was thrown out that the whole council had backed the decision to go to court.


"The councillors, particularly Craig Rowley and myself, tried desperately to avoid court action.

"This issue has got completely out of hand. A ratepayer, in my opinion, has been harassed and bullied and it is not for the mayor to suggest that it was a decision of the councillors per se.

"We [the councillors] are being held accountable for the money being spent but we weren't instrumental in the decision to spend it. As the deputy mayor I am very protective of not letting the councillors be hung out to dry."

An extraordinary meeting was held on the issue on Thursday night. Mr Coles and Crs Jim Anderson and Matt Henderson voted to go into committee and Crs Mike Balchin, Rowley and Peter Foley voted against it.

Mr Williams did not want to comment.

The Timaru Herald