INVERCARGILL Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt is refusing to apologise for comments he made about a lack of training and support, comments his fellow councillors say harm the city council’s reputation.
The issues stem from a story about training for councillors published in the Otago Daily Times on April 9 in which Sir Tim said he had several requests for one-on-one IT training denied.
The statement was rejected by council staff who said the mayor received one-on-one training on many occasions from both IT and administrative staff.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, a motion was moved by councillor Rebecca Amundsen recording councillors’ reaction to Sir Tim’s comments.
The motion asked the council record its disappointment the mayor had failed to correct his comments or apologise for the harm caused to the council.
Cr Darren Ludlow chaired the part of the meeting where the issue was discussed because councillors thought that would be more appropriate.
Cr Amundsen said the matter was raised during a chairmen’s group meeting weeks ago and, at the time, a correction and retraction was sought from Sir Tim.
“At the time, when this was raised with chairs, we indicated to the mayor this information was inaccurate and we asked him to retract, which he did not do and the article, subsequently, was published.”
She said they asked to him to publicly apologise.
Cr Ian Pottinger said although the comments were a breach of conduct, he did not want to make a formal complaint because of costs to the council.
Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark said it was frustrating as the mayor’s comments were negative and mostly unjustified.
“I can clarify for this meeting that I gave the mayor and his partner two-and-a-half hours of training on digital books in a method very easy for anybody to encompass.”
Sir Tim said the discussion was a surprise to him.
Cr Nigel Skelt invited him to take the opportunity to reflect and possibly change his mind.
“No,” Sir Tim replied.
Later in the discussion, Sir Tim said he had a “change of policy” as he previously had chosen to not comment on any issue, but that had not worked.
“So I decided to change my policy and respond immediately when the media questioned me on any issue.”
He told councillors he would find “exactly where the facts” were.
Sir Tim said he wanted to make sure he was fully informed before he made a public statement.
All councillors voted in support of the motion, except Cr Lindsay Abbott who abstained.