Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has been accused of
electioneering after turning a procedural item at yesterday's
Dunedin City Council meeting into an attack on council staff.
Tensions began to rise at the meeting when attention turned
to the 2013-14 draft annual plan, which councillors had to
approve before it could be released for public consultation.
Instead, Cr Vandervis and told the meeting the draft, as it
stood, did not have his ''full confidence''.
That was because of the quality of recent reports by council
staff to councillors, as well as the ''diabolical'' handling
of the sale of Carisbrook, he said.
He cited the ''enormous'' variation in figures presented to
councillors about the sale of Carisbrook as one example of
the ''convoluted'' reports that left him with ''an increasing
level of distrust''.
''The distrust has been getting worse for more than a year
now,'' he said.
''I no longer have the confidence that we are getting
accurate information from staff.''
His comments prompted a retort from Cr Syd Brown, who accused
Cr Vandervis of electioneering eight months out from voting
''It really concerns me that we are obviously in election
year and electioneering has started, but it really concerns
me that staff and their ability ... is brought into disrepute
''They are being used as a pawn in someone's
electioneering,'' he said.
Instead, Cr Brown praised staff for their work, which was
''of the highest order'', and chided Cr Vandervis for trying
to disrupt the council's consultation with its community.
''If you are going to vote against it, therefore you are
saying to the community 'we don't want to consult with you'.
''I think the community can then take what they like from the
result of that voting pattern,'' Cr Brown said.
Cr Vandervis' comments came after he was banned from talking
to council staff in 2011, after giving orders to some - and
describing others as ''dogs'' - in a series of angry emails.
That ban was lifted only in December last year, more than a
year after it was imposed.
There were more terse words yesterday when deputy mayor Chris
Staynes proposed a series of amendments tweaking the draft
plan before it was released for consultation.
The changes included inserting a summary of key changes, more
information about stadium debt and the proposed events
attraction fund, and a diagram summarising the financial
interaction between Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and Dunedin
Venues Ltd, among other changes.
The idea raised the hackles of Crs Fliss Butcher and Bill
Acklin, who objected to the volume of last-minute changes.
Mayor Dave Cull rejected that, saying the draft was
circulated last week and any councillor was free to recommend
changes at yesterday's meeting.
Those proposed by Cr Staynes were editorial tweaks, and there
was ''nothing untoward or improper about trying to get things
right'', Mr Cull said.
Councillors eventually voted to approve the draft plan,
including Cr Staynes' amendments, for public consultation,
which would begin on March 9 and close at 5pm on April 9.