Sir Tim lone voice against proposals

Sir Tim Shadbolt. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt says in every situation, he has been a leader — from primary school milk monitor to mayor — and all the blame for council’s troubles is ‘‘being lumped on me’’.

He made the comment yesterday, when he also referenced his ‘‘12’’ terms as Invercargill mayor — it has been nine — and said he felt the council was being split into A and B teams.

But his woes fell on deaf ears and he was the only committee member to vote against proposed changes to the future governance of the council.

An extraordinary risk and assurance committee meeting was held yesterday morning, in which adviser to the office of the chief executive, Jane Parfitt, presented a plan to move the roles of external appointees away from the council within the next six months.

Jeff Grant and Lindsay McKenzie have been working with the council since January as part of an action plan developed in response to an independent governance review, the Thompson Report.

This noted issues in the council, including Sir Tim’s struggle to fulfil significant aspects of his job, the relationship between the mayor and the chief executive, and the appointment of Cr Nobby Clark as deputy mayor.

It pointed to a leadership void at the council.

Committee chairman Bruce Robertson said yesterday the plan presented was akin to ‘‘taking the training wheels off’’.

Sir Tim began the half-hour discussion on the findings: ‘‘Where does the mayor fit in to all of this?’’

Ms Parfitt confirmed Sir Tim would continue with the same level of inclusion with both the Project Governance Group and Chairs’ Group as before.

Part of the plan included a governance group revision: its members being the chief executive, a representative of the Department of Internal Affairs, chairman of the Risk and Assurance Committee, the two external appointees and soon three other elected members, not members of the Chairs’ Group. The deputy mayor would be the chairman.

Sir Tim also had questions on the group itself.

‘‘There is a tendency for an A team and a B team. And that could evolve from that. We don’t have an upper house but that’s where it would fit in.’’

The response from Ms Parfitt was that there would be more involvement from councillors in future, and councillor Darren Ludlow clarified the governance group had to bring recommendations back to council.

‘‘The final say always rests with council.’’

Sir Tim found it interesting how the the so-called Thomson Report, referred to actual support for the mayor.

‘‘That has now been changed to wellbeing for the mayor.’’

He felt it wishy-washy and went on to say it seemed all the blame was being lumped on him.

This followed with a list of leadership roles he had held in his life.

‘‘I’ve just never been in a situation where I’m not a leader.’’

He found it hard to understand the reasoning for change.

Independent committee member Ross Jackson responded.

‘‘With respect Sir Tim, this matter is not about leadership, it is about the transition plan for the external appointees.’’

Describing how the governance group made him feel uneasy, Sir Tim did not think it enhanced democratic spirit.

Cr Ludlow disagreed, saying it was a process that had been outlined to the DIA from the beginning.

Sir Tim was the only member to vote against the recommendations.

Councillors Lesley Soper, Nigel Skelt and Graham Lewis were nominated to be appointed to the Project Governance Group, and it was proposed that from December, the appointees hand over their responsibilities for chairing the Chairs’ Group and the Project Governance Group to elected members.

Only one would attend meetings and their role would instead focus on supporting, mentoring and process, with a final review being undertaken in March. The full council will discuss the matter on November 23.