Clark stripped of some duties

Invercargill's controversy-plagued mayor Nobby Clark has been stripped of all ceremonial duties by his councillors, after narrowly avoiding a motion asking him to resign.

After a series of high-profile gaffes, Mr Clark yesterday refused to fall on his sword after facing the latest round of condemnation for his actions at a prizegiving for volunteer firefighters.

Mr Clark read a short statement at the start of the meeting.

"Over four years as deputy mayor and now as mayor I’ve spoken at over 300 meetings and a third of those are public meetings. I accept that on two occasions — one being the subject of this complaint — I did not perform well.

"To those who have publicly sought my resignation, I need to declare that I will not be resigning."

He then stood and left the meeting.

After he did so the call for his resignation was narrowly defeated, but a call for his powers to be stripped passed.

Deputy mayor Tom Campbell put forward the motion, which read: "Since council has received advice from the mayor that he may suffer from brain fade for the next two years, that council request the mayor delegate the attendance at all formal external events to the deputy mayor or another councillor for the balance of the triennium."

Crs Ian Pottinger and Ria Bond voted against the motion, as they did not feel it went far enough.

Emotions ran high during the meeting, as Mr Clark was accused of bringing the council and the city into disrepute.

The complaint alleged poor behaviour from Mr Clark at a United Fire Brigades’ Association prizegiving in March, where he was a guest of honour alongside his partner.

Included in the allegations were claims he called volunteer firefighters second-class citizens, verbally attacked the MC and disparaged young people in authority.

Mr Clark has since apologised for his behaviour, saying he was suffering from "brain fade" following open-heart surgery, but the apology was viewed as insufficient by several councillors.

Cr Steve Broad said Mr Clark’s recent behaviour was below the honour and privilege of the role.

Cr Lesley Soper said she had "no confidence that such behaviour would not be repeated".

Cr Bond said the apology did not go far enough to address the "deep humiliation" directed towards a young woman during the event and the reputational damage it caused the council.

Mayor Nobby Clark attends an extraordinary meeting of the Invercargill City Council yesterday...
Mayor Nobby Clark attends an extraordinary meeting of the Invercargill City Council yesterday following a second code of conduct complaint. Photo: Craig Baxter
Cr Alex Crackett said no-one doubted Mr Clark’s work ethic, but his "ageist, racist and sexist" behaviour and comments were repeated and had "created a void where leadership should have been".

Cr Trish Boyle suggested there should be some conditions around Mr Clark speaking in public.

Cr Grant Dermody also queried whether the council had shown the right "duty of care" towards Mr Clark after his heart attack.

Mr Campbell said the council gave Mr Clark three months’ leave — and he returned after two months.

"As to whether he should be asked to step aside, the mitigating factor is his health and the [likelihood of] brain fades.

"I would remind members that the mayor spoke to us about the problem in April."

The councillors also passed a motion asking for a letter of censure be sent to Mr Clark.

Cr Crackett said the situation was unsatisfactory.

"We all recognise he can’t fulfil the duties. If not resignation, we should be requesting a leave of absence."

The meeting was also livestreamed.

Several people expressed their disbelief that Mr Clark did not resign.

The vote

Call for Nobby Clark to resign.—

FOR: Cr Steve Broad, Cr Alex Crackett, Cr Lesley Soper, Cr Ria Bond and Cr Ian Pottinger.

AGAINST: Cr Trish Boyle, Cr Grant Dermody, Cr Allan Arnold, Cr Barry Stewart, Cr Peter Kett and deputy mayor Tom Campbell.