Whanganui Midweek

Council: Abusing our staff is unacceptab­le


We are doing everything possible to still provide services to all . . . the community under this setting.

The Whanganui District Council has seen a serious increase in abusive messages, calls and behaviour directed at staff since the district went into the red setting under the Covid-19 Protection Framework.

The council’s interim chief executive, Lance Kennedy, says, “We are doing everything possible to still provide services to all members of the community under this setting.

“Our library, for example, is offering book and collect services as well as contactles­s delivery via the Library Home Service — and council meetings are livestream­ed.

“Whanganui District Council is following Ministry of Health guidelines for the red setting, while also completing thorough and ongoing health, safety and well-being related risk assessment­s. We are also mindful that we have now had a first case in the community. The temporary measures we have put in place are also consistent with the approaches taken by councils in the red setting in other districts,” he says.

“We will, of course, continue to review our position as the situation with Covid-19 and the Delta variant evolves.”

Kennedy says the abuse is coming from a relatively small number of people who do not accept that there should be restrictio­ns for those who do not have the My Vaccine Pass.

“The council employs over 300 people and we work with contractor­s right across our district to provide essential services to the community. We have an obligation as an employer

Lance Kennedy

to ensure that our staff are as safe as possible while they undertake their work, and our customers are safe while on council premises. And just like everyone else in our community, at the end of the working day our people go home to their own families and wha¯nau — they want to keep them safe also.”

Mayor Hamish McDouall says, “The measures Whanganui District Council, along with local government authoritie­s across New Zealand, has put in place are fundamenta­lly about keeping our vulnerable communitie­s safe.”

Kennedy says, “The council is looking at what steps . . . can be taken to protect our staff. This may mean bringing in security at some council sites. Where emails and phone calls to staff are threatenin­g, intimidati­ng, or menacing, we will consider notifying the police.”

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