Concern ‘sideshows’ weakening council

Nobby Clark
Nobby Clark
Invercargill's deputy mayor says he will quit local body politics at the next election and worries a series of "sideshows" from Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt are undermining the good work of the council.

Nobby Clark has borne the brunt of several social media posts from Sir Tim that relate to Sir Tim’s ability to drive being questioned.

In the latest, Sir Tim referred to a recent media article as his most current "Et tu Brute" moment.

"Beware the Ides of May or as in my case — councillors who whisper to the press," Sir Tim posted.

Sir Tim then posted another which said: "The closer they get to power, they more the quest for it overcomes them. Not the first time this has happened but I feel disappointed for the people of the City."

Mr Clark said the posts came after he was asked if the mayor should answer questions about his driver’s licence.

"I said I’ve been hearing a lot of rumours. A lot of people in the community ask me about whether he is able to drive or capable of driving."

Sir Tim Shadbolt: "We've just been dumped in the caca more or less." Photo: ODT files
Sir Tim Shadbolt. Photo: ODT files

He had a conversation with Sir Tim behind closed doors as to whether there was anything he needed to know but the mayor refused to answer.

Mr Clark said if he was mayor he would clarify the matter so they could go on and do more positive work, but he did not believe it was the end of the world if a mistake had been made.

He took being named Brutus with a grain of salt, but he was not disloyal and was not vying for Sir Tim’s position, he said.

"I’m not interested in being mayor. I’m not standing next term — I’ve had enough of local government politics."

However, he would not throw it all away because the mayor did not like him, he said.

The council’s good work was being undone by Sir Tim’s "sideshows", which included the social media posts.

"It’s all been overshadowed about statements of whether he had a driving licence or not, whether he thinks I’m Brutus or not."

Mr Clark noted his relationships with other councillors and the chief executive had improved since he first joined the council.

This was not true for his relationship with the mayor.

The rot, as he called it, began with a report which looked at council performance.

"What makes me a little different from other deputy mayors is most fill in when mayors can’t go to a function ... Council have asked me to be at all strategic meetings regardless of whether the mayor is there or not."

These included mayoral forums and meetings with government officials.

"That is not something he has a call on."

These changes were implemented last month following the independent review by Richard Thomson last year, which found a need for clarity around the deputy mayor’s role, as well as Mr Thomson finding Sir Tim struggled to fulfil significant aspects of his mayoral role, resulting in a leadership void.

Mr Clark said both he and the mayor recommended the report be accepted to show leadership.

"Two days later we sat at a media conference and the chief executive spoke, and before I got to speak my support for it, the mayor absolutely trashed it."

He believed there were several reasons why the mayor felt the way he did towards him.

"I’ve asked some difficult questions of the mayor away from the media and [at] meetings we have had behind closed doors around some of the things in relation to his performance.

"I guess that was upsetting."

When he accepted the role as deputy mayor he told Sir Tim to respect he would at times have a different position on things and would not follow with blind loyalty, Mr Clark said.

He was determined to continue in his role unless his council colleagues wished otherwise.

"If you know anything about Invercargill politics you’ll know the mayor has worked his way through quite a few deputies in recent times. Some of them have been dealt to in unsavoury ways. One recently resigned and that’s why I stepped up.

Mr Clark took on the role when former councillor Toni Biddle resigned, who afterwards said the council was toxic.

Mr Clark said he had not heard from the mayor since asking him about his licence but had tried contacting him.

The Otago Daily Times tried to contact Sir Tim yesterday for comment, but he was unable to be reached.

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