Councillors reject calls to stand down

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    The Invercargill City Council building on Esk St, Invercargill.

    A CALL for councillors to resign from the Invercargill City Council to validate their mandate was rejected yesterday.

    Former councillor Wayne Harpur spoke in the public forum and asked councillors to trigger a new by-election, as reported in the Otago Daily Times on Saturday.

    Mr Harpur, who will stand for the vacancy at the next by-election, said a Department of Internal Affairs investigation sparked by recent media coverage highlighted a “deterioration in governance”.

    “If you are convinced you have the moral high ground – then prove it.

    “If you are convinced you have maintained the support of the ratepayer – then prove it.”

    Cr Alex Crackett defended the council and listed several projects it had achieved, including the inner-city block, a successful recycling contract and the Chinese Garden, which was now open.

    After the meeting, Mr Harpur said he did not believe councillors would support his proposal as their self-interest overrode any obligation to ratepayers.

    During the meeting, after councillors received the mayoral report, Cr Lesley Soper also raised concerns about the attendance of Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt at an election party for National MP Penny Simmonds.

    She thought it was “inappropriate” Sir Tim had noted it as an official engagement, as the council should hold a neutral position.

    Sir Tim argued while he was there in his capacity as mayor he was really there as “ambassador for Zero Fees”.

    Cr Soper said she did not care what events he attended in his personal capacity, but said the council was apolitical and it was “not something appropriate to appear as a mayoral responsibility engagement in an official list”.

    On a separate item, Cr Lindsay Abbott raised concerns council spent just three minutes discussing the approval of $4.7 million to co-fund shovel-ready projects, while spent almost 15 minutes debating whether or not an event should be in the official engagement list.

    Councillors voted to withdraw the engagement from the mayor’s report.

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