Mayor asks source of leaks to front up

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The Invercargill City Council building on Esk St, Invercargill.

INVERCARGILL Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt has challenged a whistle-blower to come forward following Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) intervention at the Invercargill City Council (ICC).

On Wednesday the ICC released documents in a move to remain transparent.

Last month, Internal Affairs ministerial advice, monitoring and operations director Anita Balakrishnan wrote to Sir Tim and chief executive Clare Hadley raising concerns about “media articles and correspondence received by us and the Minister of Local Government regarding significant conflict among elected representatives and the chief executive”.

The released documents revealed detail from a publicly excluded meeting last week and included a late report from the mayor to an August 25 council meeting.

In the documents, Sir Tim asked the “leak” to come forward.

He said from the contents of the letter from Ms Balakrishnan, it was fair to say the most likely source of the leaks and communications was within the council.

“It is my view that the best and most prudent way to address these extremely serious allegations is to hear exactly from the persons who made these complaints to the media, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Local Government, and/or any other elected representatives or chief executives of other local authorities so we can more fully understand and address the issues raised.”

He asked anyone who had expressed concerns to inform the council of what those were for “context”.

If a response was received, he called for a committee meeting giving members power to “urgently convene interviews and or debriefs with all respondents”.

That would then inform a response to the DIA.

He believed if the issue was not responded to, it could worsen into a fully fledged investigation.

The documents also detailed three options the ICC was considering in response to DIA concerns.

The recommended option was to produce a plan, as requested by the DIA, which included the council appointing a “non-voting member or members” to the ICC and its committees.

This was adopted by the council. It was also noted any costs incurred would be funded by the council and could be “significant”.

The council must come up with a plan of action by today.

Ms Balakrishnan said she was satisfied the council had moved quickly to begin to address its problems.

“We will continue to request and monitor regular updates from the council and will be present at council meetings to ensure actions are taking place until we are satisfied the issues have been addressed.”

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