TWO Invercargill city councillors tried to block the creation of a group to provide support for Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.
As part of the council’s plan to exit its two internal appointees, it was suggested a new group called Supporting the Mayor be set up to “provide the mayor with ongoing support required for well-being”.
It would comprise an informal team of up to five councillors who would look for opportunities to engage with the mayor consistent with the group’s purpose, and report back to council on its activities.
The recommendation was approved by councillors during a risk and assurance meeting last week and yesterday returned to the council’s table for confirmation.
Cr Ian Pottinger questioned what the group’s function would be and what outcomes were expected.
Sir Tim said the mayoralty was a very difficult job and he spoke about the changes and challenges he had seen during the decades within the council.
He described his priorities and achievements and said most councillors did not see the extent of the work he had done.
Cr Pottinger interrupted him and tried to explain what he was asking was what the mayor wanted from the councillors who would volunteer to be part of this group – if it was to attend meetings on his behalf, help him with matters, or other activities.
“The short answer is I don’t know,” Sir Tim replied.
He said it was hard to answer because usually they were matters that you “don’t know until it happens”.
Given that answer, Cr Pottinger proposed the item be deleted from the recommendations. He was supported by deputy mayor Nobby Clark.
“The answer did not give me confidence that it is worthwhile,” he said.
Cr Darren Ludlow believed the group should be established but with a better clarity of its function.
“Put in the facilities to have the committee to provide support in whatever form is needed and it would be a good proactive step.”
Cr Pottinger’s amendment was voted down and the establishment of the group was approved by the majority of the council.
During the meeting on Tuesday, the council also decided to revoke its controversial media protocol.
In February, councillors adopted the protocol which raised concerns from some councillors and local media.
The document asked elected members to “focus on issues and activities when speaking to media rather than the actions or decisions of other elected members or staff”.
Councillors unanimously decided to revoke the document and use its charter and code of conduct as guidance for elected members.
Cr Peter Kett said he would continue to use free speech at the council.