Councillors want end to long dispute
Waimate council candidates have all expressed concerns about a long-standing dispute in their district.
Mayor John Coles and councillors Mike Balchin, Peter Foley, Matt Henderson and Jim Anderson are not seeking re-election and could potentially leave a new council to sort out a battle with businessman Keith Williams.
Strong feelings came out at the Tuesday council meeting with accusations of dysfunction, deception and division over the case.
They were united, however, in their concerns for new representatives and the pieces they might have to pick up as Mr Williams heads to the High Court seeking $120,000 from the council.
He was awarded $80,000 in costs in a decision released in June while the council's unsuccessful legal action against him has cost an estimated $140,000 in legal costs on top of the costs award, a total of $220,000.
Yesterday, The Herald asked ward candidates their opinions.
Stuart Thomson said it was obvious ratepayers were "100 per cent pissed off".
"The council requires new blood; people with a finance and management background should be going on to council and putting a stop to this.
"There really has to be restrictions; we need changes and let's get on with it."
Morgan Wallace said the dispute had ignited him.
"Some citizens who are trying to do their best are being kicked.
"One man is trying to do something and 20 well-paid people are saying he can't do it."
Maurie Beuth said outside intervention was needed.
"The only thing that can happen now is an independent inquiry and for the name-calling to stop."
Peter Collins said the matter had got out of hand. "I'm sure there is a lot more information to come out of this; I would be unwise to comment one way or the other."
Miriam Morton said there had been too much focus on who was wrong rather than what was wrong and what could be done to fix it.
Arthur Gavegan said lawyers for both parties needed to get together and discuss the matter before it went to the High Court.
Tom O'Connor said the minister of local government needed to step in. "It's got to the stage where the council can't resolve it and it's unfair of the council to stand down and leave it in the hands of a new council.
"It needs someone to break the cycle and settle things once and for all so we can get on with looking after the district."
Sheila Paul said it was time to move on and get it resolved without more costs. "It's hard to look at any other way."
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