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Tim Shadbolt
Sir Tim Shadbolt
Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt says he felt ambushed and he had ‘‘hit a wall as the wolves circled’’ after a governance overhaul in the council this week.

He also accused his deputy Toni Biddle of disloyalty, while some of his counterparts believe he is the one who has not been loyal to her.

Invercargill City Council earlier this week approved changing its governance structure by culling four subcommittees and creating two — policy and partnerships and infrastructural services performance.

Those committees would have full decision-making powers and would be formed by all councillors.

The casting vote on matters would be for the chairmen of each committee. Meetings would be held monthly.

Sir Tim believed the decision would undermine his power.

‘‘The meeting was awful. I hit a wall as the wolves circled and technology glitches made the meeting very difficult.

‘‘People should be concerned by the new structure and the way it was put in place, championed by the chief executive [Clare Hadley] and my political opponents.’’

He accused the deputy mayor of campaigning behind his back for a new chairmanship role.

‘‘I expect a deputy to show loyalty, not jump ship when offered power,’’ Sir Tim said.

Ms Biddle said she was disappointed with his comments.

‘‘I have demonstrated my respect and loyalty to his Worship Sir Tim as I would anyone else in his role.

‘‘Loyalty is good in most cases. But, when people demand blind loyalty, people can stray from a righteous path and I will never be “blind loyal” at the expense of this community.’’

She said the council decisions made were reflective of the need for recovery.

‘‘These actions will streamline decision-making, efficiency and effectiveness for our community,’’ the deputy mayor said.

‘‘Regardless of Sir Tim's reaction or personal comments made towards me, I will continue to support our mayor as I always have.’’

Invercargill councillors were contacted yesterday about the meeting fallout and comments on social media questioning Sir Tim’s performance.

Cr Rebecca Amundsen believed the changes were necessary and said concerns about the ability of the mayor to chair the meeting was something she had raised before.

Cr Nobby Clark said the move would ‘‘strip away from the mayor’’ some powers, including using a casting vote, in the new committees.

What ‘‘Tim sees as disloyalty,’’he said, he saw as the frustration of many councillors.

‘‘I've been a strong supporter of him. But he needs to look in the mirror to understand why his colleagues feel that others need to take some roles in running these meetings. It is time to address the elephant in the room.’’

Cr Clark was disappointed and said his casting vote for Cr Darren Ludlow instead of Cr Biddle was ‘‘not an act of loyalty.’’

Cr Ian Pottinger agreed.

‘‘I think those comments [about Ms Biddle] are unfair, unjustified and cruel.’’

Cr Graham Lewis was concerned Sir Tim seemed ‘‘a little bit disjointed.’’

‘‘What is causing that I have no idea. He is a man of extreme knowledge and the city owes a lot to him.’’

Cr Peter Kett said the mayor had a done a lot for Invercargill and Southland.

‘‘I admire what he has done but he has slowed down a bit.’’

Cr Darren Ludlow agreed but said Sir Tim’s reaction was disappointing.

‘‘The issue was about finding a more efficient way to operate the governance.’’

Cr Lindsay Abbott defended Sir Tim and said he would be loyal to any chairman, councillor or mayor.

He believed Sir Tim struggled because he worked from a paper meeting agenda when others were online and ‘‘he is not up with this technology’’.

Crs Allan Arnold, Alex Crackett, Nigel Skelt and Lesley Soper could not be contacted.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

Comments

I feel sad reading this, Tim Shadbolt did so much for this small city. When he does go out, it should be in full glory. He put Invercargill on the map, and kept it there for years, whether you like it or not. The country will not like to see him being disrespected. You knew he was a character when he first became mayor, and he still is. That was never going to change. That is what put you on the map.

Quoting: "Sir Tim believed the decision would undermine his power." I have no sympathy for Mayor Shadbolt. The law was changed some years ago giving the mayor the right to name his deputy and Chairs and Deputies of council committees. Since these positions can have considerably higher pay than plain Councillor, supposedly on account of increased responsibility, the law putting them in the gift of the mayor is a clear financial incentive to suck up to the mayor. Before the law change by the National Party in government at the time of the creation of the Auckland supercity, the deputy and chair positions were voted on by the whole council. This is far more democratic and likely to get the most competent person for the position. Sounds to me as if Mayor Shadbolt had become accustomed to behaving dictatorially, aided by this BAD law. Some commenters said the law change was cynically intended for Auckland mayoral candidate, John Banks, so he could run Auckland on National Party lines. But Len Brown won, not Banks and so that didn't work but this bad law remained, prompting mayors to become dictators with sycophantic councillors.

Dunedin CC is also split but the mayor has enough power to keep going...in the meantime.

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