31 Oct 2012

Ombudsman's Office accused of taking sides

4:12 pm on 31 October 2012

The Ombudsman's Office has been accused by a ratepayer group in Northland of taking sides in a row over a payout to the former head of Kaipara District Council.

The Mangawhai Ratepayers Association asked the Ombudsman to order the council to explain why it paid chief executive Jack McKerchar $250,000 when he left the council late last year .

But the Chief Ombudsman, Dame Beverley Wakem, has declined to look further into the matter.

Ratepayer and farming groups blame Mr McKerchar for cost over-runs in the Mangawhai sewerage scheme that left Kaipara with an debt of $80 million and huge rate rises.

Mangawhai Ratepayers chair Bruce Rogan says the council has refused to explain the golden handshake and now the Ombudsman's office has endorsed its secrecy.