Two councillors step back from legal wrangle
Two Waimate district councillors have agreed to step aside from an ongoing legal battle between the council and businessman Keith Williams.
Mayoral hopeful Craig Rowley and deputy mayor Peter McIlraith were told at a council meeting yesterday that they have conflicts of interest in the long-running case.
Both men agreed to step aside from the matter, but not before questioning a second legal opinion that confirmed they had conflicts of interest in the case.
Mayor John Coles said the opinion was based on the fact the two councillors had provided sworn affidavits in support of Mr Williams' application for costs against the council.
The case, over a disputed building consent, has so far cost the council $140,000 in legal fees, on top of $80,000 in costs awarded to Mr Williams in June by district court judge Joanna Maze. Mr Williams is seeking a further $120,000 in costs through the High Court.
Cr Rowley asked if his speaking rights relating to the case would be removed if he was elected mayor.
"I won't be stepping down; I will be stepping aside, because I want to see this matter resolved. I've been absolutely truthful. I've got nothing to hide."
District council chief executive Tony Alden said Cr Rowley's loss of speaking rights would continue if he was elected mayor.
Cr McIlraith said two fair-minded men were being removed.
"From my point of view, I'm not leaving this chamber, I am stepping aside.
"We have got a bigger issue here; I don't think this council is playing a smart game."
Mr Coles interjected: "It just seems a bit ironic that some councillors can discredit others. I think the stadium vote was orchestrated."
Cr McIlraith replied: "It just seems others are told when they can vote and when they cannot.
"I don't believe the conflict of interest is fair.
"I think this is a sideshow; it is only 1 per cent of council's business."
Cr Sharyn Cain agreed the matter was only 1 per cent of council business and distracting councillors from other issues.
"I feel like we are treading water and we are getting nowhere."
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