Report discussed in private

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    Independent evaluator Richard Thomson (front) and Governance expert Bruce Robertson talk with Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark before the meeting last week.

    THE outcome of a central government probe into “significant conflict” at Invercargill City Council (ICC) moved a step closer during a closed-door meeting last week.

    An extraordinary meeting was held last Thursday for independent evaluator Richard Thomson and council independent governance adviser Bruce Robertson to brief councillors on their review of the council’s governance.

    The pair were called in after the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) launched an investigation in August in response to concerns raised about the performance of elected representatives.

    Invercargill Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark described the meeting as positive and said everybody had a chance to comment on the report and to make sure Mr Thomson accurately understood their feedback.

    “We are having a meeting in a week when we will get the final report which will [provide an] overview [of] a way to go from here and what we need to do to work forward.”

    When questioned on whether the report gave any indication of possible intervention from central government, he said he did not “think the report was designed to do that”.

    “There is a desire around the table to do things more positively, to focus on good and tangible outcomes for the community.

    “I’m hopeful that is where the issue will end but we will need to walk the talk, not just talk. That is the challenge for all of us.”

    Cr Darren Ludlow said it was an informative and constructive meeting, but councillors would need to wait to have the final report to understand the recommendations.

    “But I’m comfortable with the process,” Cr Ludlow said.

    An ICC spokeswoman said the discussions at the briefing would be incorporated into a final report, which included recommendations for the future.

    “Once the council has considered the finalised report on November 12, and made decisions on the way forward, the outcome and next steps will be shared with the DIA and the community.”

    In the meeting, before it became public-excluded, Cr Peter Kett asked why some people had been able to have a look at the draft report before the meeting.

    Mr Robertson said he was happy to explain the reasons for that when the meeting moved to public-excluded.

    Other councillors and Mr Robertson declined to comment on the matter until the finalisation of the report.

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