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Cr David Benson-Pope yesterday confirmed he had lodged two complaints with council chief executive Sue Bidrose this week, both alleging unacceptable behaviour by Cr Vandervis towards council staff.
Both related to "abusive, totally offensive" emails sent by Cr Vandervis to two female staff members earlier this week, Cr Benson-Pope said.
One of the staff members had been reduced to tears by the email she received, and other staff had also been upset by its contents, he said.
Cr Benson-Pope said the complaints to Dr Bidrose registered his concern, but sidestepped a more formal code of conduct process, as that had not worked in the past.
"The code of conduct might be a very fine thing, but in terms of enforcing acceptable behaviour, it's worthless."
The nature of the emails were confirmed by others spoken to by the Otago Daily Times yesterday, including Mayor Dave Cull and Cr Kate Wilson.
Cr Vandervis did not respond to ODT requests for comment.
The complaints emerged as the council released a proposed new email "quarantine" policy, designed to protect council staff from abusive content, which would be considered at next week's council meeting.
The policy could prevent the senders of "abusive, offensive, vulgar or intimidatory" content from being able to email council staff directly.
Those in breach would be quarantined, initially for six months, and their messages diverted to a privacy officer, who would screen messages and only send through acceptable parts.
Members of the public, council staff or councillors could all be quarantined under the new policy, although criticism of staff - without accompanying name-calling, abuse or accusations - would not constitute a breach.
Council chief executive Sue Bidrose would not be drawn on what prompted the new policy yesterday, except to say she needed to meet her obligations as a good employer under health and safety legislation.
However, Mr Cull went further, saying the proposed policy had been prompted by recent emails from Cr Vandervis to staff.
"It [the policy] certainly won't be aimed only at Cr Vandervis, but it would be fair to assume that recent emails from him have enhanced the need for this kind of mechanism."
The new policy came weeks after it emerged Cr Vandervis had been sending angry emails to council staff, demanding answers over a stalled investigation into a possible merger of the DCC and Otago Regional Council.
Cr Vandervis had pushed for the investigation in 2017, but staff had later de-prioritised the work, stalling its progress.
That led to a controversial move earlier this month, when Cr Wilson forced an immediate vote - without debate - on a motion to withdraw support for the investigation.
Cr Vandervis was accused by Mr Cull at the time of harassing Dr Bidrose in emails, and other female staff in person, reducing some to tears.
It also emerged yesterday the notice of motion tabled by Cr David Benson-Pope to withdraw support for the unitary council investigation breached council standing orders, as it lacked the required signatures to be considered.
That had prompted a flurry of further emails between Cr Vandervis and staff this week, as well as a revised motion to be considered at next week's meeting, again withdrawing support for the investigation.