Environment Canty councillors accuse colleague of email bullying
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.
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.’’