Mayoral apology advocated

Tim Shadbolt
Tim Shadbolt
Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt was the subject of an independent investigation by the council after a formal complaint made by councillor Lesley Soper.

A report by independent investigator Robert Buchanan will be presented at today’s council meeting which advocates a retraction and apology in public from Sir Tim to Cr Soper.

Chief executive Clare Hadley received a formal complaint from Cr Soper in June.

The complaint concerned a comment made by Sir Tim during a council meeting on June 24 about a member of Cr Soper’s family which she found "unacceptable, offensive, discourteous, and disrespectful".

It was after a public forum concerning the WasteNet Southland contract tendering process.

Sir Tim’s comment appeared to question whether Cr Soper had valid grounds for having declared a conflict of interest because a close member of her family was employed by the incumbent contractor.

"Then there's your case, the mystery niece or something that we don't know, have any information on, and haven't been told why you have this conflict," the mayor said at the meeting.

A conversation between the two then followed the meeting.

Cr Soper, in a letter, invited him to "consider an apology at the next open council meeting".

When Sir Tim decided not to apologise, she wrote a formal complaint.

Mr Buchanan said, in his view, the mayor’s remark breached section 5.1 of the code and invited him to comment.

After the election, Mr Buchanan received a statement from Sir Tim’s lawyer saying the ‘‘matter has been elevated unnecessarily to a code of conduct complaint".

"His Worship has always believed that the democratic process will from time to time give rise to robust debate and some tolerance is required to make allowance for this," the statement said.

Mr Buchanan disagreed and concluded the matter could be resolved by retraction and apology in public session.

Two other motions will be discussed at the council’s meeting.

The first is an instruction to the chief executive to negotiate the Wastenet tender closure with the Southland District Council and the Gore District Council and start a waste minimisation plan.

The other is a motion to put on hold Invercargill's Water Tower strengthening work.

A report prepared by council water manager Alister Murray said the council had only two options — to strengthen the Water Tower and Control Building sufficiently so that they both were no longer earthquake prone, or demolish both.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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