Saturday, November 27

Invercargill City Council Performs Well Despite Mayor Issues, Reviewer Says

An independent reviewer says Invercargill residents should feel confident that their local council can do its job after 12 tumultuous months that included possible government intervention.

Invercargill City Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.

Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.
Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Late last year, Richard Thomson wrote a report that found major problems stemming from a leadership vacuum with Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt struggling to get his job done.

Invercargill city councilors received a six-month progress report for the first time publicly during an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Overall, the council’s report card painted a much more positive picture than it did last year: better staff and council morale, positive progress on key issues, and councilors working better together.

But the report did not shy away from continuing concerns about Mayor Sir Tim, who was seen not only as unable to do his job fully, but who continued to actively stoke discontent.

Southland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheree Carey was pleased to see some positive developments.

“It is a great relief to see this amount of progress made … in that short space of time. Richard’s report also mentions that there is a little way to go.

“Obviously, there is still a leadership vacuum with Sir Tim Shadbolt, but it seems like they are dealing with it in their own way and putting processes in place to fix the problems they are having in that space, but they can still move on with their work.”

She called the ongoing leadership issues a distraction.

“Because we work closely with the city council, we are aware of all the good things that are being done there, so it is frustrating to read the newspaper or read online every day that it is just this little crap that, you know. , is pulling on personal issues regarding the mayor and his deputy or harassment or whatever the accusations of the day are.

“But we are resigned to the fact that we now have to work around that. It will come down to elections next year.”

Thomson said it was a different tip than the one he first reviewed.

“The council is a work in progress, but I sincerely want the people of Invercargill to acknowledge the actual progress made and my opinion that the entire council, as it is currently operating, is meeting the fundamental requirements that its contributors should expect of it. .. “

Invercargill was much more than the mayor, he said.

“At the end of the day, the mayor is just one part of the council team. Important: yes, but one vote in 13, and if the focus were to stay on him at the expense of very real improvement, then he will ignore it, I think he will. that this advice has shown you can achieve. “

Sir Tim said he believed the report contained allegations that were presented as fact.

“The report does not mention my lack of support or anything the council has done specifically to address this issue. The report lightly touches on the serious allegations of bullying and downplays the serious problem of email interception.”

Councilmember Lesley Soper said the council had made great strides.

“It has given us the basis to say that we have reached a point where we can honestly say to our community: ‘This council has reached the point where they can be fully confident that we will be good advice.’ “

Councilor Rebecca Amundsen said councilors and staff had put the mahi in to make changes.

“We are now in a position where we are confident that holding each other accountable for our bad behavior or comments is something we are willing to do and I am very happy to see that happening.”

Councilwoman Lindsay Abbott wanted the issues to stop showing up in the media.

“These actions, I said, they said, claims and counter claims negate the positive achievements – I think – and the work the council has done and it just turns into a food frenzy for part of the public.

“Most of the public just want us to see a united and united progressive council along with a healthy debate, that works in the interests of the electorate.

Abbott wanted the council to stay the course and make more progress.

“Let’s continue. Let’s be a formative council. Let’s work for the electorate and let the people decide the mandate in 13 months.”

All councilors, except Sir Tim, voted to support staff recommendations, including approval of the continuation of the Project Governance Group and the phasing out of external appointments.

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