INVERCARGILL Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle will be taking control of Invercargill City Council (ICC) emergency meetings during the Government’s Covid-19 lockdown.
But she assured the community she was not taking the place of Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.
The decision was made at an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday to discuss plans to get through this she said.
There, the council adopted a new committee, formed by all councillors and the mayor, and appointed Mrs Biddle as chairwoman.
“That committee will be chaired by me because of his worship’s inability present at the office. It is to protect him, more than anything else.
“It was an uncomfortable conversation that his worship and I had to have and, obviously, this had never been considered before, but we had to keep unity and have to demonstrate that is the right thing to do. We have to lead by example, but I made it very clear I will not take over the mayor’s responsibilities.”
She said Sir Tim would be working normally, but in a digital presence.
“We will be having meetings have meetings via phone as much as necessary. It continues business as usual.”
She said as Sir Tim was a “man of the people”, the lockdown would be hard on him as he loved his work.
“He loves to be out and about in his community. He is always at the forefront of anything when it comes to Invercargill and Southland. I can imagine this will be incredibly hard for him so it is important I support him through this process.”
Mrs Biddle said the new committee would have the same powers of council but the quorum would be different.
Before, any decision made required a quorum of seven people. Now, although seven people were still required, only two members needed to be physically present, while others followed the meeting by audio visual link.
The Southland District Council (SDC) also took the same approach this week.
During an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, SDC councillors approved an emergency committee made up of Mayor Gary Tong, Deputy Mayor Ebel Kremer and Cr John Douglas.
If one of those members was not available, the vacancy would be filled by Christine Menzies and Rob Scott, in order, a report from group manager community and futures Rex Capil says.
Among the measures adopted, they also changed the quorum needed to be physically present at meetings with a minimum of two members present with at least five other members attending by audio visual link.
It also delegated powers to the emergency committee making decisions on urgent matters to all council services, and to approve contracts for work, services or supplies for unbudgeted spending up to $10 million.
Mayor Tong said he was pleased the council was able to address the issue quickly.
“We are facing an unprecedented situation. We commented during the meeting today the community is the heart and soul of the council, so we will be working hard to keep providing council’s services. We will do everything possible to help in these difficult times.”