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Councillor quits, cites bullying

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A South Wairarapa councillor has resigned, citing “no confidence” in the mayor and district council’s chief executive.

Dayle Harwood emailed South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier and his former fellow councillors yesterday with the news.

Mrs Napier has accepted his resignation and plans to be in touch with Local Government New Zealand today to begin the process of finding a replacement via a by-election.

Mr Harwood told the Times-Age he was sick and tired of the “pettiness” and “elements of bullying” that went on behind the scenes.

He was elected onto South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) for the Featherston ward in 2016.

He said there needed to be a change of attitude, and South Wairarapa needed a clear, new vision going forward.

“It’s time the council be led properly, and South Wairarapa deserves that. They voted against amalgamation, so they think this is a better model. The council needs to prove it, and they’re not doing that.”

He said he was also fed up with SWDC chief executive Paul Crimp not taking responsibility for issues that he was accountable for.

“I personally have no confidence in the mayor and CEO and I wish them all the best.”

Mr Crimp said Mr Harwood’s comments would be taken on board.

“As with any situation like this, we’ll look at the messages coming out and see what improvements, if any, need to be made.”

Mr Harwood said he “wasn’t getting any back up” from other councillors, and that SWDC did not appreciate his outspokenness.

“I felt it was just me up against the whole council.”

He said he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure things were being done by the book, and felt he had been swimming against the tide for some time.

SWDC passed a resolution last September to make an application to the Government’s MBIE Tourism Infrastructure Fund for half the budget for a coastal infrastructure upgrade at Ngawi and Tora, totalling around $200,000.

Mr Harwood said Mr Crimp sent out an email weeks later asking that council agree to building toilets at Ngawi, regardless of the tourism fund application outcome.

“I said no as there was a resolution and that would need to be rescinded at a council meeting. They still went ahead and ordered the equipment, still not knowing if the fund would be approved or not.”

Mr Harwood said this made a mockery of the council’s decision-making process.

“Then I received a phone call from another councillor, saying if I didn’t agree with it then the residents of Ngawi would know it was me that was holding work up . . . it was straight out bullying.”

He said he had weighed it up, and walking away from SWDC was the best decision.

“I’m an all or nothing guy. I’ve done my dash, and I won’t do it again, that’s for sure.”

Mrs Napier said Mr Harwood had been “working well for the community . . . he’s vocal, he gives his opinion”.

“We thank him for the work he has put in as a councillor.”

The next local body elections will be held on October 12, 2019, meaning a by-election will be needed to decide a replacement for Mr Harwood.

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