22 Nov 2022

Gore mayor to not claim travel costs for his private personal assistant

9:28 pm on 22 November 2022
Ben Bell, Gore

Photo: Supplied / Facebook

The Gore District mayor is no longer asking the council to cover the travel costs for his private personal assistant.

Ben Bell, 23, flew to a two-day training session for new mayors in Wellington last month, booking flights and accommodation for himself and his personal assistant.

He billed the council for $4584.

While an expense claim was not unexpected, Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry noted he was surprised to see more than $2000 earmarked to cover the assistant's costs in a report tabled to a council meeting on Tuesday.

When Parry asked council staff for advice, he was told the assistant's expenses were not legitimate council related expenses, failed to meet council sensitive expenditure policy, and should not be reimbursed.

In a memo, he confirmed the council would only cover costs for Ben Bell - $2481.40 - as well as the additional cost for the bookings not going through council's channels which got corporate rates.

The report to councillors said the mayor intended to challenge the decision.

But when Bell addressed councillors during the meeting, he told them he was no longer challenging the decision.

"I'd like to inform the councillors and the general public that all costs related to my personal assistant, I've accepted the cost as she was my personal assistant and I don't think that it should be taken onboard by the council following the recommendation by staff and also conversations with councillors."