Cr ousted from group after refusal

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The Invercargill City Council building on Esk St, Invercargill.

AN Invercargill city councillor has been removed from a governance group after he refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

During an extraordinary Performance, Policy and Partnership committee meeting yesterday, Cr Nobby Clark was replaced by Cr Lesley Soper on a sport and entertainment governance group, which would discuss the future of assets including Rugby Park and Surrey Park.

Last week, Cr Clark said the request to sign the agreement was a breach of section 14 of the Local Government Act which states a local authority should conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically accountable manner.

However, before yesterday’s meeting, chief executive Clare Hadley explained the non-disclosure request was because the governance group might request commercially sensitive information which would ordinarily be released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

“However, this information is not Invercargill City Council’s to disclose the need for an NDA. The NDA provides those external groups with an assurance that their information will be treated sensitively and confidentially.

“It gives them confidence that they can share fully and frankly their position, financial or otherwise, so that the governance group has access to all relevant information in order to make a recommendation to council.”

During yesterday’s meeting, Cr Clark said the request seemed to him to be a kind of “gagging order”.

Chairman Darren Ludlow, who was also part of the governance group, did not have any problem signing the agreement and had previously signed similar documents for the council.

Cr Peter Kett moved a motion asking Cr Clark to continue in the group despite his refusal to sign.

The motion was voted down with six votes against it.

Crs Nobby Clark, Peter Kett, Toni Biddle, Allan Arnold and Invercargill Mayor Sir Timothy Shadbolt supported the motion.

Crs Darren Ludlow, Lindsay Abbott, Rebecca Amundsen, Nigel Skelt, Lesley Soper and Ian Pottinger voted against it.

After the voting, Cr Ludlow asked if Cr Clark continued his stance. Cr Clark confirmed he would not sign the agreement, leaving the position vacant.

When asked if any councillor would be interested in the position, Cr Soper put her name forward. Councillors accepted her nomination.

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