Warning for regional councillor

Waikato Regional councillor Hugh Vercoe has been accused of taking water without consent on his Tauhei property during the dry spell, says the Waikato Times.

Last week he received a formal warning from council but says he has done no wrong.

He told the Times he began pumping water from a large detention pond on his property in 2011 after becoming aware of increased flooding to his neighbours downstream.

The pond is managed by the regional council and is part of the Tauhei flood protection system.

He is also being investigated regarding alleged modifications to a dam on his 728-hectare property.

The pond is managed by the regional council and is part of the Tauhei flood protection system.

“In 2011 we had a meeting at the Tauhei Hall where all the cockies turned up and said: ‘We’re getting increased flooding and a lot of it is because of you, Hugh Vercoe’,” he said.

“I therefore attempted to minimise this by pumping water from the dam on to the adjacent paddocks. This was done to increase the actual capacity within the dam.”

Vercoe said regional council staff were aware of his actions at the time and believed he had done nothing wrong.

He had no intention of resigning from the council.

“I defy you to tell me what I have done that I shouldn’t have. If they [council] didn’t want me to pump the water then they should have told me in 2011 and I would have stopped.”

Council chairperson Paula Southgate said she would have a sit-down chat with Vercoe about the incident but would not get involved in the regulatory process.

“The warning is for taking water without consent over the summer period and I know the history and details from Hugh’s perspective but I haven’t caught up with the details from staff. I have confidence in our processes,” Southgate said.

Water quality commentator Angus Robson of Matamata said everyone was deserving of a second chance but he was surprised Vercoe had allegedly not followed correct procedures.

The incident did not reflect well on the regional body and should result in Vercoe being put on notice, Robson said.

Read the Times’article here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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