Decisions Made Following Code Of Conduct Investigation
Waikato regional councillors have today voted to suspend elected member Fred Lichtwark from all committees, subcommittees and other representative roles over angry and abusive behaviour.
The suspension will remain in place until 31 August 2021, at which time it will be reviewed. Cr Lichtwark will remain a member of the full council, which meets monthly and as required.
The decision was made following a full and fair independent investigation into three complaints against Cr Lichtwark last November under the Waikato Regional Council Code of Conduct for Elected Members.
A number of recommendations were made by the independent investigator. These were discussed with all involved and it was decided this week that:
- apologies are required to be made to council and the individual complainants
- appropriate training be undertaken to address an angry and abusive communications style
- mentoring be provided
- an email and social media policy be developed for elected members and training be provided on it.
Consideration will also be given by the regional council to whether to engage LGNZ EquiP to customise a training workshop for elected members on communication and engagement with councillors, staff and the public.
Council chair Russ Rimmington said, “I want to reassure our communities that today’s decision does not affect Cr Lichtwark’s ability to represent his constituents – he’ll continue working with his elected member colleagues and be able to keep up with council business.
“He will continue to receive agendas and be able to sit in on any meeting he wishes to attend, but will not be able to participate unless the committee chair grants permission to do so. In full council meetings he’ll be able to raise matters, in line with standing orders, and vote,” Cr Rimmington said.
He added: “While this investigation has been underway councillors have continued to work together in the best interests of our communities.
“Only two weeks ago we came together for some full and frank talks over three days before agreeing our proposed budget and work programme for the next 10 years. I am confident that this robust decision making can and will continue over the remainder of this term,” Cr Rimmington said.