23 Nov 2020

Sir Tim Shadbolt found increasingly unable to fulfill duties - review

6:54 pm on 23 November 2020

An independent review into growing problems at the Invercargill City Council has found Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt has been increasingly unable to fulfil his duties.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt. Photo: RNZ / Lydia Anderson

The council has today made public the review, as well as an agreed action plan to sort out its governance problems, following concerns raised by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The review found most of the council's tensions stemmed from a leadership void, with the mayor increasingly unable to carry out duties.

The council will appoint two external appointees and develop a clear set of delegations for recently-appointed deputy mayor Nobby Clark.

Sir Tim said the report was scapegoating him for the failings of the council.

"Anyone who has any faith in this report with its glowing praises and singularly-directed criticisms, is also likely to believe we will soon see Auckland Island pigs flying over Queens Park," he said.

The report's author is former Dunedin City councillor and Southern District Health Board member Richard Thompson, who said it was not easy to write his report about someone with the mana and standing of Sir Tim.

His said interviewees reported a range of concerns, including Shadbolt's long-term memory deficits, his confusion, and increasing incidents of embarrassment, including at meetings, which councillors had tried their best to hide from the public.

Sir Tim, however, rejected the concerns.

"The report would have you believe that the dysfunction of this current council rests squarely on the shoulders of myself and my new deputy Nobby Clark.

"I refuse to believe that the average person on the street is likely to accept that the ongoing strife has been caused by Nobby and myself alone... I'm not prepared to take such a huge proportion of the blame. "

He criticised the council for not supplying him with enough support.

Former deputy mayor Darren Ludlow said Sir Tim's position seemed to have changed since a meeting on 12 November.

"He can say what he wants, he's the mayor and has a separate mandate from the rest of us. It is a little surprising that his position has changed," he said.

Clark said the focus was now on external stakeholder roles and the appointments would be made by the council and tracked.

The appointees would not have voting rights, but would seek to be "active observers" at the council table.

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