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Mayor Andrew Williams defies calls to resign

Monday 29 Mar 2010 7:41 a.m.

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North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams is defying calls for him to resign after newspaper allegations about his behaviour following his spending some hours in a bar.

The Sunday Star-Times said one of its reporters followed Mr Williams from a Takapuna bar, where staff said he had been from 4pm on Thursday afternoon until 10pm that night, and saw him urinate outside his council building before driving away.

Mr Williams said he spent about 3-1/2 hours in the GPK bar in Takapuna and consumed a minimal quantity of red wine with food.

"I went to GPK at the conclusion of council business. This is my private time. These are friends who just want to meet up, have a bit of a yarn and catch up on things," Mr Williams told The New Zealand Herald.

"They don't have to get involved with the mayor's business. They were acquaintances who invited me, end of story."

Mr Williams has said he has no comment to make on the public urination allegations, but said he wasn't over the alcohol limit when he drove.

The Sunday Star-Times said later that night he sent an email to senior council staff saying he had "utter contempt" for Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and Housing Minister Maurice Williamson for the "rape and pillage" of the North Shore council.

Mr Williams, who has six months of his term remaining, said he was being singled out by political opponents who were unhappy he was questioning the process of the "super city" local government reform in Auckland.

Mr Williams has also been vocal in his attempts to get central Government to contribute more to repairs of leaky homes, and on Friday alleged the Government stood to gain $2 billion from house repairs.

Mr Hide has said it was time for Mr Williams to go, and The New Zealand Herald said five North Shore councillors and another five local politicians have signed a letter asking him to resign.

"He has really tarnished the reputation of the North Shore in many ways," Councillor Ann Hartley told Radio New Zealand.

"This is just the latest. It has gone on for 2-1/2 years and he really is a laughing stock, it doesn't matter where you go."

Councillor Chris Darby said the incident reported yesterday was the "last straw."

"We've witnessed this sort of belligerent behaviour for a long period and it's our job to stand up and not condone this activity. It's well documented," he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr Darby said the council had much work to do in the lead-up to the establishment of the Auckland Council in October.

"It's difficult to do this work when the first topic of conversation when you're dealing with regional politicians is 'what's up with the Mayor'?"

One of Mr Williams' supporters, Councillor Jan O'Connor, told Radio New Zealand she wished Mr Williams' opponents "could just beat up on somebody else for a change".

Mr Williams was in headlines recently for sending texts in the early hours of the morning to Prime Minister John Key.

He said they were expressing his views on the super city but Mr Key labelled them aggressive and obnoxious.

Mr Key today did not wish to comment about whether Mr Williams should resign, saying it was something he had to resolve with councillors.

But he said he was disappointed about Mr Williams' email comments about Mr Hide and Mr Williamson, saying both were working to improve Auckland governance.

"Certainly in the case of Rodney Hide I can understand that a mayor that's being amalgamated as part of a super city feels resentful."

As a directly elected official, Mr Williams cannot be fired.



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