Under-fire councillor lodges code of conduct complaints against council staff

SIEGE: City councillor David East is still calling for an independent inquiry into how a clause was left out of the District Plan.

Under fire city councillor David East is worried about the internal culture among some city council staff.

It has been six months since Cr East accused city council staff of tampering with the District Plan. He has since been embroiled in a code of conduct complaint.

But yesterday he told The Star the saga had sparked concerns about aspects of the city council’s culture.

Cr East will be passing on those concerns to Mayor Lianne Dalziel, chief executive Karleen Edwards and his city council colleagues today. He said the majority of staff are “brilliant” and do an “exceedingly good job” for the council.

“However, in parts, there is resistance and a culture that is detrimental to the future progress of the city . . . there is a reluctance to embrace a can-do attitude.”

He said he has lodged his own code of conduct complaints against two senior staff members. They had not yet been formalised, but he said staff were “on notice.”

“One senior member wrote something in an email to question my ability . . . the other was a verbal comment made in the council foyer,” he said.

Cr East has been under fire since he claimed a clause in the District Plan, giving leeway to people in specific coastal areas, deemed at risk of flooding, to build and extend homes, was intentionally left out by staff.

His call was backed by Coastal-Burwood Community Board chairwoman Kim Money and deputy chairman Tim Sintes, and Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member Darrell Latham, who face their own code of conduct complaints.

As a result of the outspoken comments, Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods approved the city council’s proposal to amend the District Plan under section 71 of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act.

Cr East acknowledged Dr Woods, Ms Dalziel, Dr Edwards and staff for fast-tracking the changes.

But he is still calling for an urgent, independent inquiry into how the clause was left out.

An audit, which the city council commissioned, by Environment Canterbury councillor and former Environment Court judge Peter Skelton found there never was a missing clause.

However, Cr East said the Skelton audit did not address a number of irregularities or how the clause came to be missing.

Ms Dalziel and Dr Edwards are demanding a further apology, he said. “I think my major objection is I’ve been proved guilty as charged and the inquiry is needed to say if there’s any substance to the claims,” Cr East said.

“I apologised and I’m not wanting to do it again and again . . . the independent inquiry would bring to the fore these irregularities in the District Plan, why should I apologise before that?”