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The first public meeting of an Invercargill City Council governance group has shown tensions between Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and his deputy mayor continue.
The project governance group was formed following concerns raised by the Department of Internal Affairs about significant conflict in the council in 2020.
Since then, the group has held monthly meetings behind closed doors, but last year deputy mayor Nobby Clark made a push for those meetings to be open.
Despite the progress achieved by the council, it was clear there were still some relationship conflicts around the table between Sir Tim and Cr Clark.
The animosity between them was highlighted yesterday when discussing the progress on a group to support the mayor.
Chief executive adviser Jane Parfitt said councillors had endorsed the creation of a group "to provide the mayor with ongoing support for wellbeing".
She had expected a verbal update on the matter but said she was unaware what progress had been made.
Cr Clark said he had asked Sir Tim earlier this week if he still wanted to have that group created — which the mayor had confirmed.
He then asked Sir Tim and members of the group — Crs Nigel Skelt, Peter Kett, Graham Lewis, Allan Arnold and Lindsay Abbott — if there had been any contact since then.
"This group seems to linger, it doesn’t seem to go anywhere," Cr Clark said.
Sir Tim said he had not had time to contact them.
"It was a lot harder than I thought because of the meetings that we had all through yesterday [Tuesday] and also I realised then how difficult it is to get a group of that size within a short period of time."
He said one of the reasons was that he did not have a full-time personal assistant at the moment, and only had council staff helping him for about 14 hours a week.
"I’m prepared to make a list of all the help I need in greater detail," Sir Tim said.
The answer did not satisfy Cr Clark, who then asked Cr Lewis and Cr Skelt if they had had any calls from the mayor this week, which both denied.
"So, Jane, we are back to square one — where we were before ... What is the benefit to be gained by keeping this group going? I’ve worked considerably behind the scenes to try to get this support group up and running for the mayor so he feels support at work."
Cr Clark said that since last year the mayor had made his position clear that he did not want to have any councillor from the council’s committee chairmen group involved in the support group, which included himself.
A statement sent to media by Sir Tim had caused a feeling of betrayal in some of the councillors, Cr Clark said.
Cr Clark said he wanted to have some progress on the matter as the council needed to understand what its goals were so it was not just a "talk-fest".
"We just keep pushing this issue out."
Cr Skelt said he and Cr Lewis would meet Sir Tim after the meeting to try to speed up the process and determine if indeed the group needed to be formed.
The outcome of that meeting would be reported to the council at next week chairmen’s group meeting, Cr Skelt said.