Jim Hedley. PHOTO/FILE

GRACE PRIOR
grace.prior@age.co.nz

Featherston farmer Jim Hedley was removed from South Wairarapa District Council’s meeting on Wednesday after calling councilors a “flock of sheep”.

Hedley was making a submission to the council about his removal from the water race subcommittee – and was withdrawn from the meeting for criticising an elected member, mayor Alex Beijen.

Hedley began his submission by saying to council “the majority of you agreed with what the mayor said about me, like a flock of sheep you supported his resolution to remove me from the water race subcommittee without going through the proper process of hearing from both sides”.

He said another subcommittee member had resigned, and others were questioning their own involvement with the subcommittee.

“The mayor has made allegations without me knowing the detail or evidence. So much for being open and transparent.”

Hedley said he had been terminated from the committee in a letter from Beijen on May 19.

He said none of the subcommittee had been shown a copy of the council’s code of conduct.

“Section 5 of the code of conduct states that individual members have no personal powers that commits council to a particular policy, course of action, or expenditure. It says to act in good faith – for an example, honesty.”

Hedley said he had acted in good faith and honestly.

“Whereas the mayor has breached the code of conduct by not acting in good faith or honestly.”

Beijen then stopped Hedley’s speech.

“I’m afraid I must interrupt you and ask you under section 14.15 [of the council’s standing orders] to cease criticising elected members, and also being disrespectful and offensive.”

He said this was Hedley’s first warning and asked him to carry on.

Hedley continued to state that Beijen had maintained until recently that the rates rise was only 14 per cent when “in fact it was 28 per cent”.

“Does he know the meaning of the word true?”

Beijen asked Hedley to cease his submission under the standing orders of the council.

Hedley said he was stating the facts, but Beijen did not accept this, “you are stating an opinion that is offensive and disrespectful.”

Hedley told Beijen that if he didn’t like the truth, it was his problem.

Hedley was then removed from the Zoom meeting.

The council said in its standing orders document that under section 14.15, the chairperson has the discretion to decline to hear a speaker or to terminate a presentation at any time where the speaker is criticising elected members and/or staff.

The chairperson can also terminate a presentation on the grounds that they are being repetitive, disrespectful or offensive.

Under section 7.5, the chairperson can order the removal of any member of the public for disorderly conduct.

In Hedley’s speech notes, provided to the Times-Age, he intended to call for Beijen to resign from council.

“He has concerns about my aggressive and obstructive manor. The mayor knows all about being aggressive and obstructive.”

Hedley wanted water race subcommittee members to be appointed by water race users, rather than the council.

He had conducted a survey of Longwood water race users as a representative for the area on the subcommittee.

Some of the questions he had posed to residents was if the water race was economical, if it supplied enough water for their needs, the size of their property that had been rated for the water race, and if they wanted to retain the water race.

Hedley said he had purchased a 40ha block of land, and that only a third of it was serviced by the water race.

Hedley felt that he had been sacked from the water race subcommittee just for doing his job.

Beijen and the council were asked about their reasoning for ending Hedley’s submission, why he was terminated from the subcommittee, and why he was appointed to the subcommittee.

They did not respond by the time of publication.



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