Discussion goes behind closed doors

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Invercargill Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle (left) and Invercargill City Council chief executive Clare Hadley. Photo: File

A HEARING into a complaint from the Invercargill City Council chief executive against its deputy mayor has been adjourned for a month in the hope a private resolution can be achieved.

Performance, policy and partnership committee chairman Darren Ludlow on Tuesday ruled there was no breach of procedures in relation to a code of conduct complaint by Clare Hadley against Toni Biddle.

The matter was included in a public-excluded session of the meeting agenda. A source told the Southland Express the complaint referred to “tone” and the way Cr Biddle spoke to Mrs Hadley at last week’s council meeting and on “other occasions” since becoming deputy mayor.

In the meeting on Tuesday, Cr Biddle raised that a breach of standing order might have occurred when information was leaked to media before anyone from the council told her about it.

She moved that the matter be discussed in an “open arena” and invited the chief executive to have a private meeting to resolve any concerns.

“My concern is the breach of standing orders around what happened when the complaint was sent to the chair and the lack of foresight by the chair to just take some time to ensure that I was notified of that breach or complaint,” she said.

“That is natural justice and this council has failed me on that.”

ICC executive officer Andrew Cameron said the council’s code of conduct did not cover a situation where the chief executive laid a complaint against a councillor.

However, he said Cr Biddle was not informed beforehand because “at this stage nothing has happened with the complaint”.

“It has been effectively received by the council as an entity. The next step is… an independent party gets appointed. That stage is when your natural justice flows.”

Mr Cameron also said the matter should not be discussed in an open meeting to “protect the privacy of both parties”.

After some debate, Cr Biddle’s motion was put on the table. It was voted down; six councillors – Lindsay Abbott, Rebecca Amundsen, Graham Lewis, Darren Ludlow, Ian Pottinger and Lesley Soper – opposed it.

Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and Cr Alex Crackett were not present.

After the vote, Cr Ludlow decided to adjourn the matter and said it would be debated in a public-excluded session.

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