INVERCARGILL’S Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow has informed the council he will consider taking legal action if the reasons why he stood down from the role are made public and considered defamatory, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt says.
His intention to take legal action was communicated to the council’s chief executive Richard King via email on Monday night.
Last week, the Southland Express reported Cr Ludlow had resigned from the position because he was overcommitted. It has since been established all but one councillor had signed a requisition seeking his removal from the role.
Mr Shadbolt said he initiated a “round table discussion” on April 21 to discuss “issues” he had with Cr Ludlow, and nearly every councillor who spoke also raised concerns. Following the discussion, the nine councillors present and Mr Shadbolt signed a requisition to remove Cr Ludlow from the position. Cr Lloyd Esler, who was not present at the discussion, signed the requisition the following day. Cr Ludlow was not present at that discussion.
Mr Shadbolt said, as set out in the council’s standing orders, consultation with the affected party was not required.
When he sought to remove former Cr Neil Boniface from the role of deputy mayor in 2009, Cr Boniface was present at the discussion and the “backlash” had been severe, so in an attempt to avoid a similar situation he decided Cr Ludlow would not form part of the discussion, he said.
“It has run its course. Everyone has had their say that wanted to have their say.
“Now legal options have been placed before us, it is time to step back and focus on the really positive work the council is undertaking,” Mr Shadbolt said.
Cr Rebecca Amundsen said the decision to designate a new deputy mayor would have “positive long-term benefits for the council”.
“Personally, I think it is now time to move on and look to the future.”
Cr Lesley Soper said she had accepted Cr Ludlow’s resignation.
“Standing orders has a process. We have followed it. There was a resignation of the deputy mayor. End of story.”
The Southland Express contacted Cr Ludlow, but because of work commitments he was unable to comment at the time of print.
Two councillors step forward
AS of Tuesday, Cr Rebecca Amundsen and Cr Karen Arnold have put their names forward for the position of deputy mayor.
Cr Amundsen said: “It is a place where I think I can make a difference and help the council achieve all the goals it has and progress the city.”
Cr Arnold said: “I would be proud to be considered. I am an independent thinker… and I would also bring time [to the role] because I don’t have many outside commitments, so I could step up at any time to assist him.”
At present, Cr Arnold is undertaking a defamation action against Mr Shadbolt and Fairfax New Zealand Ltd, publishers of The Southland Times newspaper.
Cr Arnold said she had discussed the matter with Mr Shadbolt when she put her name forward for the deputy mayoral role.
“We both know [the defamation action] sits outside our work on the council and it has never affected our working relationship or the way we communicate on council matters at all,” she said.
Cr Ludlow will remain as deputy mayor until the next council meeting on May 23, when a replacement will be chosen by the mayor and councillors.