Costs high as mayor is cleared by tribunal

‘Importantly, the day before the telephone call and the email exchange took place, the council had itself resolved that various documents, including it seems, some or all of those included in the third-party discovery that led to the disputed bill of costs, should be made to the constituent ‘free of charge’,’ tribunal senior member Peter McNab said last month.

Mr McNab overturned a 2012 Local Government Standards Panel decision that Mr Hipkins breached professional conduct, for which he was publicly censured in a daily newspaper notice.

The censure followed residents Sue and Michael Minshall, and Brian and John Anderson, all of Adams Road in Dalkeith, alleging to the panel that Mr Hipkins sought an advantage for Adams Road resident John Burridge, who was in dispute with Mr Anderson about structural security of a retaining wall on a contested boundary.

In 2009, Mr Burridge faced a $12,406 bill from the council for planning documents he requested for his dispute in 2009.

A day after the council’s resolution cancelling the bill on September 23, 2009, Mr Hipkins’ email told Mr Burridge ‘When you get the (council’s legal fees) bill after taxing, don’t pay it. Let me know.’

Legal fees have cost Mr Hipkins $10,000 personally and the council spent $100,000 to defend giving Mr Burridge the documents.

Asked if the six-year argument had provided insight to resolving protracted neighbour disputes, Mr Hipkins said it was a ‘hard’ question because goodwill was needed to solve disputes amicably.

‘Residents can be very protective of their local environment and sometimes it can go to extremes,’ he said.