Vandervis at centre of 'tit-for-tat' row

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
The salvoes keep coming as Dunedin city councillors point the finger at each other - and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull - over allegations of inappropriate behaviour and broken council rules.

The Otago Daily Times has learnt six complaints alleging breaches of the council's standing orders were lodged by councillors in recent weeks, five of which are yet to be resolved.

The standing orders included a code of conduct establishing the expectations of the city's elected representatives, and punishments - ranging from an apology to suspension from some posts - for breaches.

Bill Acklin
Bill Acklin
All six complaints involved Cr Lee Vandervis, either as the councillor making the complaints or as the target of them.

Cr Vandervis yesterday confirmed he had lodged two complaints in recent days - one against Cr Bill Acklin and the other targeting Mr Cull.

The complaint against Cr Acklin was a response to public comments made by Cr Acklin when he filed a complaint against Cr Vandervis last week.

Cr Acklin, when contacted by the ODT last week, confirmed he planned to file a complaint alleging Cr Vandervis had breached standing orders by discussing confidential information about the art work Rugby Haka Peepshow in the Octagon.

Cr Vandervis said yesterday his response claimed Cr Acklin had not followed proper process, by "going to the media first" to discuss his complaint.

Cr Vandervis said he had also lodged a complaint against Mr Cull, because of the way the mayor had handled "a whole bunch of issues", including points of order raised by councillors during council meetings.

Cr Vandervis had already complained - unsuccessfully - about Cr Syd Brown two months ago, but was still awaiting an outcome following his two subsequent complaints.

Crs Acklin, Kate Wilson and Brown had all fired back in recent weeks, complaining about aspects of Cr Vandervis' conduct, he said.

Cr Vandervis - despite filing half of the complaints - yesterday described the "tit-for-tat" moves as "a big ugly red herring".

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
"All this code of conduct stuff is really just tit-for-tat bitchiness around the council table, and I don't welcome it because it's a distraction from the real issues."

A "standing orders matter" was listed for discussion in the non-public part of Monday's full council meeting, but Cr Vandervis - who was at the meeting - declined to discuss it.

He referred questions to Mr Cull, who said when contacted he couldn't comment "at the moment" about any of the complaints, and would not confirm or deny whether one was directed at him.

"Obviously, if there is a complaint against me, it won't be dealt with by me."

Instead, any complaint against him - if there was one - would be assessed by deputy mayor Cr Chris Staynes.

If accepted, it would be referred to the council's conduct committee for further action, with Mr Cull's place as committee chairman - alongside Cr Staynes and an independent person - taken by another councillor, Cr Staynes said.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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