Councillor suspended due to angry and abusive behaviour

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A Waikato regional councillor has been suspended from council committees until August because of angry and abusive behaviour.

Waikato regional councillor Fred Lichtwark.

Waikato regional councillor Fred Lichtwark. Photo: Waikato Regional Council

Fred Lichtwark was suspended following an independent investigation into three complaints made against him in November under the council’s Code of Conduct for elected members.

He is barred from taking part in committee, sub-committee, and other representative roles.

Lichtwark has been made to apologise to the council and the individual complainants, undertake training to address an angry and abusive communications style, and be mentored.

The council will also develop an email and social media policy and provide councillors with training in it.

The council said it would also consider whether to engage Local Government NZ to customise a training workshop for elected members on communication and engagement with councillors, staff and the public.

Lichtwark’s suspension from council committees does not affect his council membership or attendance of full council meetings.

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Council chair Russ Rimmington said Lichtwark would continue to receive agendas and be able to sit in on any meeting he wished to attend, but would not be able to participate unless the committee chair granted him permission. However even then, he will not be able to vote.

“In full council meetings he’ll be able to raise matters, in line with standing orders, and vote.

“I want to reassure our communities that today’s decision does not affect Cr Lichtwark’s ability to represent his constituents – he’ll continue working with his elected member colleagues and be able to keep up with council business.

“While this investigation has been underway, councillors have continued to work together in the best interests of our communities.”

The suspension will be reviewed at the end of August.

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