A ‘time-out’ for Clark: deputy mayor

Nobby Clark.
Nobby Clark.
Invercargill's deputy mayor has seemingly changed his rationale for why he requested the mayor to step aside from public engagements.

On Friday, deputy mayor Tom Campbell put forward a motion at an extraordinary council meeting strongly recommending Mayor Nobby Clark delegate such engagements.

It followed a code of conduct complaint against Mr Clark over comments he made at a United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) event in March, where he was accused of belittling the female MC and disparaging young people in positions of authority.

At Friday’s council meeting — held specifically to discuss Mr Clark’s conduct — Mr Campbell said it was important to protect the council.

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"I do think that there is a need to provide some mechanism or protection that we don’t find ourselves in the same situation again in a couple of months’ time, following another public speaking engagement."

One way to provide that protection was to delegate all public engagements to either the deputy mayor or another councillor.

On Saturday, an email leaked to media revealed Mr Clark would not accept a restricted role, and planned to continue his mayor duties as usual.

Mr Campbell told Stuff he was "very disappointed" by that decision, believing Mr Clark would again falter in the coming months.

But following an announcement from the mayor yesterday afternoon that he would take a month off to "refresh" — made shortly after a meeting with Mr Campbell — those fears seemed to subside.

Mr Campbell said it was now "pointless" to discuss the mayor’s lack of willingness to step back from speaking engagements, saying the time off would give him a chance to reflect.

"The intention of that (Friday) motion . . . was to reduce the number of hours he worked, take him out of the evening public engagements that he was doing."

Mr Campbell said the mayor was doing 60-hour working weeks, leaving him "overwhelmed".

"This is a bit of a time-out for him to get better and think about things."

Serving his first term as a councillor, Mr Campbell was a former Tiwai Point aluminium smelter general manager who entered the chambers under Mr Clark’s "Let’s Go Invercargill" ticket.

Included was existing councillor Allan Arnold and new councillors Grant Dermody and Barry Stewart.

On Friday, all four voted against councillor Ian Pottinger’s failed motion requesting the mayor step down.

— Matthew Rosenberg, Local democracy reporter

— LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.