Sir Tim Shadbolt conference snub 'fails to respect democracy' – Stuff.co.nz
Sir Tim Shadbolt claims the Invercargill City Council is circumventing democracy by sending his deputy mayor to a significant conference instead of Shadbolt himself.
And now Shadbolt has decided to pay his own way and attend the conference anyway.
Invercargill deputy mayor Nobby Clark confirmed he will represent Invercargill at a three-day Local Government New Zealand South Island conference starting on Wednesday.
Clark said the council’s chairs committee made the decision that he would represent the council in Christchurch this week.
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Clark did not believe that Shadbolt would be able to articulate the Invercargill council’s views on important matters like the 3 Waters Reform at the conference, or report back appropriately to council as to just what was discussed.
“It’s part of the original push that I would do the strategic meetings, and he would do the more ceremonial ones,” Clark said about the decision for him to go on behalf of Invercargill.
Shadbolt confirmed that he had been told by the council’s chairs committee that they believed he would not accurately present the council’s views on the 3 Waters Reform.
He had no objection with Clark also attending and talking to the 3 Waters Reform. However, Shadbolt was astounded that the chairs group was “circumventing democracy” by not sending him, the Mayor, as well.
Shadbolt was alarmed that he would now have to pay his own way on the back of the decision from his own council colleagues.
“I am led to believe that at no time before has any council in New Zealand ripped away a Mayor’s entitlement to attend a mayor’s meeting.
“The actions of the group are history in the making and not reflective of the tone of democracy.”
Included in the chairs group are committee chairpersons Darren Ludlow and Ian Pottinger, deputy chairs Rebecca Amundsen, and Alex Crackett, along with Clark and Shadbolt.
A group of four Shadbolt supporters, who go by the name of “Tim’s Team 2021”, say it is Shadbolt’s role to attend the conference as the democratically elected Mayor.
“Neither the deputy mayor, the councillors, or the chief executive can take that role away from Sir Tim,” the group says in an email statement sent on Tuesday.
“This denial of the mayor’s role and the refusal to cover his costs fails to respect democracy, it has a vindictive tone, and gives credence to claims of bullying and a toxic culture within the council.”
The Christchurch Conference agenda includes the Government’s Future of Local Government Review, RMA reform, and the 3 Waters Reform.
Tim’s Team 2021 [TT21] is made up of Margaret Evans, who was Hamilton mayor from 1989 to 1998, Tauranga businessman Doug Owens, Waitakaruru farmer Max Purnell, and nationwide trucking operator John Bower.
They were connected through the Auckland Harbour Board and Waitemata City Council in the late 1980s, and Vietnam War protests before that.
Clark said he had offered to hold a video conference meeting with the group to outline his thoughts on Shadbolt and provide some background to the council’s situation.
He said that offer had not been taken up, and was disappointed the group continued to send out public statements without listening to what he had to say first.
Clark would not be entering in any more correspondence with the group and the offer of a videoconference meeting had been withdrawn, he said.
Shadbolt was relieved to have the support of the group; “to expose the culture within the current council and highlight the need for change to the current regime for the sake of the future of our city”.
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