Council censures Wilson for talking to media

SILENCED: Hamilton City councillor Ewan Wilson.
SILENCED: Hamilton City councillor Ewan Wilson.

A shouting match erupted as Hamilton City councillor Ewan Wilson was sacked from a committee in charge of council organisations.

Two members of the public were escorted from the building after they cried "disgrace" from the gallery and accused the council of a breach of natural justice when they voted 8-4 in favour of Cr Wilson's dismissal.

Last week, the council-controlled organisation committee voted 4-1 to sack Cr Wilson after chairman Garry Mallett accused him of breaching confidence.

The decision was due to be ratified in the new year but was rushed on to the extraordinary council agenda for the final full council meeting of the year.

Cr Mallett said that emails Cr Wilson sent to a Waikato Times reporter constituted a breach of confidence and that Cr Wilson showed a "total lack of understanding and respect" with regard to confidential information.

"The actions of Cr Wilson, his deliberate actions, have caused a situation where the members of the committee no longer trust or have confidence in his behaviour," said Cr Mallett.

But council accepted the content of the emails was already in the public domain and when asked if he believed the emails were confidential in nature, Cr Mallet said, "no."

Councillor Dave Macpherson said the resolution was "entirely inappropriate" and was a bad look for council.

"I think that basically there is a personality clash going on here between two councillors."

He said it was out of hand and revoking Cr Wilson's position on the subcommittee was the wrong course of action.

"If the chair or any elected members don't like what another elected member is saying or doing there are other processes that you can take."

Councillors attended a post-election governance day and Mayor Julie Hardaker said they agreed to work within acceptable boundaries of behaviour.

She acknowledged that Mr Wilson was on leave at the time.

"One of the key tenants of that was trust and confidence in each other in the processes that we have and the way we go about making our decisions," she said.

She had a prior engagement with TVNZ's Seven Sharp programme and was not in chambers to cast a vote but supported the resolution.

Cr Leo Tooman said too much council business was played out in the media.

"I don't really want to be part of an organisation where we do business in the public arena," he said.

"This I believe is an arena whereby we should sort out differences between each of us, and we will have differences between us, but at the end of the day I would like to see us all here for one purpose and that is really the betterment of the community."

Cr Wilson said the punishment did not fit the crime but as an elected member he would continue to ask questions of the council.

"If you are sending an email to me as a city councillor that's in the public domain," he said.

"I will continue to do the job that I'm elected to do.

"That means, I will ask the hard questions, I will sometimes be an irritant."

Waikato Times