Hutt Councillors wasting money on squabbles

Stuff reports:

Lawyers are in gravy and ratepayers are getting a stuffing as Lower Hutt councillors rack up big bills to settle disputes over such vital questions as whether a roast chicken buffet counts as “lavish”.

Ratepayers have been footing bills totalling more than $20,000 since a change to ’s code of conduct resulted in its chief executive calling in lawyers to adjudicate scraps between councillors.

The most expensive stoush, between deputy mayor David Bassett and councillor Campbell Barry, cost more than $14,000.

Astonishing.

Another, also involving a complaint against Barry, cost $7500 and centred around whether Barry had been accurate to refer to councillors eating a “lavish” buffet of roast chicken after voting to exclude some low-paid staff from receiving a living wage.

Cr Barry seems to be very costly.

Another scrap, between Lisa Bridson and Chris Milne over a karakia (Maori prayer) at a meeting in April, resulted in a bill for $5720, and a finding that there was no need for further action.

Milne had earlier told council chief executive Tony Stallinger that he was unhappy the complaint had been made, and he regarded it a waste of time and money.

Bridson complained because Milne disagreed with her on the need for a karakia!

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