The Press

En­vi­ron­ment Canty coun­cil­lors ac­cuse col­league of email bul­ly­ing

- Paul Gor­man Climate Change · Ecology · Christchurch

En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury (ECan) coun­cil­lors say they have been bul­lied by a fel­low coun­cil­lor in a se­ries of emails.

Christchur­ch East rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rik Tin­dall, the chair­man of ECan’s emer­gency man­age­ment com­mit­tee, launched the at­tack on his col­leagues, in­clud­ing re­gional coun­cil chair­man Sir Kerry Burke, this month.

The emails fol­lowed

his fail­ure to be elected at the July 30 coun­cil meet­ing as ECan’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on a Christchur­ch City Coun­cil cli­mate change and sus­tain­abil­ity work­ing party.

In­stead, Christchur­ch North rep­re­sen­ta­tive and ECan haz­ards com­mit­tee chair­woman Jane Deme­ter was nom­i­nated and elected.

Burke said last night the is­sue was ‘‘well on the way’’ to be­ing re­solved, but the coun­cil had made its de­ci­sion and would not be chang­ing it.

Emails for­warded to The Press show that as a re­sult of not be­ing elected to the work­ing group, Tin­dall wrote to his col­leagues say­ing he would ‘‘ab­solve my­self of all and any re­spon­si­bil­ity for any loss of life in Can­ter­bury that should hap­pen to oc­cur through de­fi­cien­cies in civil de­fence and emer­gency man­age­ment (CDEM) pre­pared­ness’’.

He emailed Burke say­ing the elec­tion process for the work­ing party was ‘‘to­tally de­fi­cient’’.

‘‘I no longer con­sider you a fit and fair chair­per­son, sir,’’ Tin­dall said.

Burke replied: ‘‘Any con­spir­acy the­ory in­volv­ing me is ut­terly re­jected.’’

Burke is fac­ing a vote of no con­fi­dence in his chair­man­ship, to be tabled at to­mor­row’s coun­cil meet­ing in Ti­maru.

In an­other email, Tin­dall said ‘‘in the in­ter­ests of full dis­clo­sure and not to threaten’’, fur­ther fail­ure to ad­mit the role and ad­vice of CDEM ‘‘will re­sult in a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign . . . within coun­cil it­self to re­move ob­sta­cles to coun­cil meet­ing its statu­tory obli­ga­tions’’.

He also wrote to coun­cil­lors say­ing: ‘‘Suc­cinctly, col­leagues, your sense­less action has po­ten­tially put lives at risk. Please with­draw your hos­tile action, or find it nec­es­sar­ily re­turned.’’

Deputy chair­woman Jo Kane laid a for­mal com­plaint with Burke about Tin­dall’s ‘‘email threats, in­tim­i­da­tion and defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions’’.

Cr Bron­wen Mur­ray said yes­ter­day that she had found the emails threat­en­ing, in­co­her­ent and in­ac­cu­rate.

‘‘I emailed the chair say­ing I wouldn’t like to get th­ese emails if I was home alone. I felt un­com­fort­able and bul­lied by them,’’ she said.

Tin­dall told


Press yes­ter­day he was ‘‘sur­prised that some­one is dis­cussing our pri­vate emails’’.

He had not sent any emails ‘‘along those lines’’ for ‘‘a num­ber of days, or a week’’.

‘‘The fact that it is be­ing brought to the boil now is more to do with the chal­lenge against Sir Kerry than any­thing else,’’ he said.

Tin­dall would not com­ment on whether com­plaints had been re­ceived about his emails or on whether Burke had taken any action.

He was ad­vanc­ing Can­ter­bury’s CDEM is­sues through the new work­ing party, he said.

Burke said dis­agree­ments hap­pened from time to time.

‘‘A virtue of col­le­gial re­la­tion­ships is they do get worked through and re­solved,’’ he said.

‘‘Col­leagues talk to each other and try to re­solve dif­fer­ences when they arise. That is what’s been hap­pen­ing.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand