Judge bars ex-consent cop

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An Environment Court judge has disallowed role-reversal evidence by Tim Francis, Queenstown’s laid-off resource-consent cop. 

Judge Fred McElrea – in a recent judgement on court costs – disregarded Francis’s affidavit supporting Steve and Stacey Rout’s Procure Concrete because Procure’s lawyer didn’t get permission to submit the sworn statement. 

McElrea also indicated that Francis’s redundancy last December means the former compliance boss of council regulator Lakes Environmental is “not a person whose objectivity can be relied on” and his “hearsay evidence is unacceptable”. 

From early-2008 until he was laid off, Francis spearheaded Queenstown Lakes District Council’s noise prosecution of Procure over its Frankton plant. 

In the rejected affidavit sighted by Mountain Scene, Francis slams both former employer Lakes Environ-mental and the complainant – a film equipment company neighbouring Procure’s plant and co-owned by Brett Mills and QLDC councillor Gillian Macleod with husband Roger Norton. 

Francis accuses LE’s planner of overlooking Mills’s firm as an affected party and predicting without proof that Procure’s plant would be “relatively noiseless”. 

However, Francis also sprays Mills with criticism in his affidavit, saying his noise complaints were “unreasonable”.
Some of LE’s costs were even “a direct result of [Mills’s] unreasonable actions”, Francis alleges. 

His statement says: “It became apparent [Mills] did not approve of the concrete batching plant…and was prepared to take any steps he could to ensure [it] would not be able to operate on the site.” 

Mills is having none of it. 

“All that is nonsensical,” he says. 

“To say I was unreasonable is not really fair. 

“We never, ever stated anything else [except] we were always totally opposed to the concrete plant being built right on our boundary.” 

Mills “totally agrees” with court criticism of Francis’s potential lack of objectivity. 

Yet Mills also “absolutely, totally” agrees with Francis’s accusation that Lakes Environmental stuffed up when consenting the concrete plant. 

Mills: “[It] should never have been built there. There’s been an enormous travesty of justice here.” 

Procure “ruined the amenity values of our property”, he alleges, with dust, noise and vibration putting paid to a planned film “shooting space”. 

Mills also dismisses Francis’s claim that the film company boss should have paid $7095 for a noise test. 

After Procure commissioned a favourable test, Mills met then-council boss Duncan Field to express “lack of faith” in that test, demanding an independent reassessment. 

Francis, who attended the meeting, claims Field okayed a repeat test after Mills agreed to pay for it if the concrete plant was once more found to be noise-compliant. 

The plant passed the second test so Procure shouldn’t be charged the $7095, Francis tried to tell the judge. 

Francis wanted the court to know “these proceedings were by far the most unusual matter” he dealt with in seven years as consent cop – and that Lakes Environ-mental stuff-ups left him feeling all parties should meet their own court costs. 

Mills says the Francis account of the noise-test deal isn’t the whole story. 

Mills says he agreed to pay only half the cost, not all of it – and apart from noise levels, there were other conditions which weren’t met. 

In court, Procure was ordered to pay $19,000 to Queenstown Lakes District Council and $2500 to Mills’s company.