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Invercargill city councillors met to discuss a joint agreement between the Invercargill, Gore and Southland District councils which would keep the recycling contract with Southland disAbility Enterprises for a further year.
A motion from Cr Toni Biddle to make the debate public led to a robust discussion. Cr Lloyd Esler described it as "electioneering" but Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt found that view "cynical".
Earlier, Sir Tim was told by the council lawyer he could not conduct the meeting due to a "conflict of interest".
Council chief executive Clare Hadley suggested some councillors did not understand the full picture when they decided on June 5 to reject the Wastenet preferred tenderer.
Cr Allan Arnold said she was trying to "change the way council voted", and Cr Lindsay Soper accused Cr Arnold of directing inappropriate comments to a staff member.
The council went into a public-excluded session to vote on the extension of the Wastenet contract, and said a joint statement would be released soon.