Lawyering might be a gravy train for some, but $20,000 in legal expenses from Buddle Findlay and a Wellington barrister and dealing with such matters as whether roast chicken was regarded as a “lavish” meal, is the sort of bill that might be making Lower Hutt ratepayers wonder if they are having the stuffing pulled from them, or reinserted.
The internecine warfare that often characterises local councils has broken out in Lower Hutt, the normally placid riverside-and-mall city, with the city’s chief executive calling in the lawyers to handle disputes between councillors since a code of conduct was introduced in December.
So far the disputes over mostly trivial matters, have seen bills of $20,000 since the code-of-conduct implementation.
Included in the legals was a $13,000 bill from Wellington barrister Richard Laurenson, according to Stuff.co.nz.
The Buddle Findlay invoice reportedly relates to a dispute between deputy mayor David Bassett and councillor Campbell Barry, (left) who has generated a substantial degree of heat over various issues in the council.
The report, the Stuff says reads like something out of Monty Python, cost almost $7000.
It dealt with such weighty issues as whether roast chicken was ‘lavish’ in the 21st century, concluding in favour of Councillor Barry that it was not, noting –
In fact there was braised or charred chicken, I understand. I do not think, as Cr Sutton suggests, that ‘roast chicken’ conjures up something lavish. Perhaps it would have done so in a bygone era.”
So that’s put that matter to rest.
The Laurenson report – all 71 pages of it – related mainly to a living wage dispute – always a favourite among councillors – which requested that Councillor Barry be censured. Barriser Laurenson considered that he should not be
But wait . . .there’s more.
A Maori prayer dispute lead to a legal bill of $5720. And so goes the Lower Hutt ratepayers-for-the-roast saga.