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In two successive motions during the Clutha District Council’s corporate and property committee meeting in Balclutha on March 19, Bruce ward Cr Selwyn Wilkinson was first condemned, then spared censure only by chairman Ken Payne’s casting vote.
During official apologies as the meeting began, Cr Alison Ludemann raised the alleged repeated absence of Cr Wilkinson, and asked whether the council should accept his latest apology.
"It’s unfair on those who are here and put in the hard work, for one member continually to be absent," she said.
Discussion ensued regarding the protocol behind such a move, and whether a formal apology meeting deadline — as Cr Wilkinson’s did — could be declined.
Fellow Bruce ward councillor Bruce Vollweiler said it would be "contrary" not to accept Cr Wilkinson’s apology for the meeting at hand, given two earlier committee meetings that day had already accepted his apologies.
Cr Mel Foster said she understood Cr Ludemann’s concerns and intention, but did not believe declining the apology would work.
"Perhaps a direct approach to the councillor in question would be more effective?" she said.
Cr Bruce Graham agreed .
"He’s put in an apology, that’s an end to it.
"Does none of us have the intestinal fortitude to confront him and deal with the matter on a face-to-face basis?"
Cr Ludemann moved an amendment to accept the absent Cr John Herbert’s apology alone, as a show of disapproval.
The vote was split 6:6, and decided in favour by chairman Ken Payne’s casting vote.
However, Cr Vollweiler then moved to accept Cr Wilkinson’s apology.
That vote, too, was split 6:6.
Cr Payne again voted in favour, this time sparing Cr Wilkinson further censure.
Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who also attended the meeting, said he had since spoken with Cr Wilkinson about the matter.
"The discussion highlighted some frustrations, but there’s a sensitivity around [Cr Wilkinson’s] personal circumstances at the moment.
"As a council I’ve always been proud we’ve considered those matters a priority. We’ll work through these with due process."