‘Cake-maker’ manager resigns from council
A West Coast council manager who commissioned an Auckland cake decorator’s firm to build a $7 million sewage plant has resigned.
Vivek Goel stepped down in February from his position as Westland District Council group manager of district assets. He left the job on June 20. The beleaguered assets manager temporarily went on leave after the Serious Fraud Office announced it was launching an investigation into his activities at the council, including contracts he had commissioned. The investigation is ongoing.
It was revealed in March that Goel commissioned a company called Techno Economic Services to build a multi-million dollar sewage plant in Franz Josef.
The company’s sole director and shareholder, Neha Bubna, ran a cake shop in South Auckland and had no experience in waste management or construction services.
Goel tried to push the plan through council after a 2016 flood from the Waiho River caused millions of dollars of damage to the town and wiped out its sewage ponds.
The plan to build the plant was met with opposition from the community of 300, who said they could not afford it.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith, who rejected the deal, was swept to power in the local government elections afterwards on the back of the community’s widespread dissatisfaction.
When asked about Goel’s resignation, Smith said he did not have many details.
‘‘He resigned to pursue other interests,’’ Smith said.
He confirmed Goel was paid during the four months he was on leave.
Goel’s resignation comes after that of former chief executive Tanya Winter, who resigned in April after the council paid her an undisclosed amount.
Winter will start a new role at the Otago Regional Council in August.
Council operations manager David Inwood has taken over as acting district assets manager.