INVERCARGILL City councillors and staff were left shocked on Monday when Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt rebutted an independent report which revealed a “leadership void” as one of the main reasons for the council’s issues.
In what was expected to be a press conference to show solidarity of councillors and a combined move forward in addressing issues, Sir Tim took to the microphone and slammed the report.
The report, prepared by independent evaluator Richard Thomson, states Sir Tim is struggling to do significant aspects of his job.
“The actual content of the report, I am not willing to wear,” Sir Tim said.
“I refuse to take the mantle of convenient scapegoat.”
Sir Tim said the report was flawed and he suggested too much of it was aimed at his shortcomings and those of deputy mayor Nobby Clark.
He pointed the finger at Invercargill councillors, said he was not given enough administrative support and described himself as the victim of a vendetta.
“Anyone who has faith in this report, with its glowing praises and singularly directed criticisms, is also likely to believe that we shall soon see Auckland Island pigs flying over Queens Park.”
However, councillors did not believe his opposition to the report’s findings would have any impact on council’s plan of action as they were prepared to carry out what had been decided without Sir Tim’s blessing.
Last week, councillors unanimously agreed to the findings and the recommendations of the report.
Everyone was surprised at the mayor’s about-turn
Cr Clark said during the closed meeting, when the report was discussed, he was the one who moved the document for approval and Sir Tim seconded it.
So he was shocked at Monday’s turnaround from Sir Tim.
“I was surprised that he went down this track. I didn’t think that is where we were heading collectively.”
He said there was a good feeling around the table before the meeting with councillors being forward focused and prepared to leave the past in the past.
The mayor was having a “pretty rough” time following pressures from media and fellow councillors, he said.
He understood where Sir Tim was coming from, but did not believe the press conference was the right place to do it, he said.
Cr Clark admitted his deputy mayor role had been more “hands on” than in the past, but he was happy to do it to get things done.
“Now we need to have 13 leaders not just one provincial leader. And that is the way to go for us.”
Cr Rebecca Amundsen agreed and said she was not worried about how Sir Tim’s refusal would affect the council’s action plan as there were 12 councillors willing to work their “butts off” to show the community they could achieve what they promised.
- Additional reporting by Grant Miller