Outgoing councillor asks four times for mayor to resign

Departing Westland district councillor Des Routhan called four times for Mayor Bruce Smith to resign on Wednesday, claiming the Hokitika Ute Muster last year had run at a far greater loss than thought.

In a fiery head to head at the penultimate meeting of the current council, Mr Smith said it was an "unacceptable allegation".

Cr Routhan said he had already spoken to the Office of the Auditor-General, which confirmed it would look at the information.

"In the meantime you should pull the plug."

Mr Smith retorted: "Wait until you're proven wrong".

Cr Routhan raised the matter as a late agenda item and claimed the Ute Muster had run at a loss of over $50,000.

The Ute Muster was introduced to Hokitika by Mr Smith and was run at Easter 2018 by the council subsidiary Destination Westland.

A second muster had been scheduled for last month but was later canned. Councillors have asked for months to see the financials, held by Destination Westland.

Cr Routhan said it had taken him almost two years to get the figures, which were released under the Official Information and Meetings Act.

He claimed it had previously been reported to councillors as a $6000 or $10,000 loss, although council chief executive Simon Bastion denied that.

"It's $52,356," Cr Routhan said.

"I'm calling for heads to roll. That includes the mayor and chair of Destination Westland. They should resign honourably.

"I'm calling on your resignation Bruce and the chair of Destination Westland (Ian Hustwick)," he repeated.

Mr Smith said Cr Routhan was "playing politics".

"Send it to the Auditor-General and let it be investigated properly," the mayor said.

Cr Routhan again said: "In the meantime do the honourable thing and resign. You treat it as a joke. It's no joke."

Getting financial details on the Ute Muster had been like "getting blood out of a stone".

Towards the end of the debate Deputy Mayor Helen Lash asked if Destination Westland could attend the next council meeting to explain.

"Can they explain the discrepancy. Something needs to be explained."

Cr Lash asked if the loss was $10,000 or $52,000.

The council then moved into public excluded.

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