Gore District Council row: Group demand Stephen Parry leave interim role

2:30 pm on 16 October 2023
Gore District Council

Gore District Council offices. Photo: Gore District Council

A group of Gore residents is starting a petition calling for the immediate removal of departing chief executive Stephen Parry.

Parry last month announced his resignation from the council following what is understood to be a mediation process.

However, last week at a behind closed doors meeting on Tuesday, a majority of councillors supported appointing him as interim chief executive until his role was permanently filled in the new year.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gore District Council deputy chief executive Rex Capil - who had been assumed to be the man to take over as interim - announced his surprise resignation from the council.

It was understood mayor Ben Bell - who had clashed with Mr Parry since the then 23-year-old took over the mayoral chains a year ago - did not support the move.

Now the Gore District Citizen Action Group was calling for Mr Parry to go immediately.

Petition organiser Hayden McIntyre said the petition would be presented to the council later this month.

"We are not just angry, we are furious," he said.

It was the second petition this year calling for Parry to go, after another ratepayer started an online petition in May calling for his resignation after a group of councillors tried to get Bell to resign.

Ben Bell supporters outside of the Gore district council building on 16 May, 2023.

Residents had previously made their feelings known when they called for Parry's resignation earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

McIntyre said his petition would be paper-based following criticism from councillors over the last one, which was rejected by all but the mayor.

He urged concerned locals to sign the petition.

"Let's send a message to Councillors how disappointed we are in them, clearly, they are not listening."

Acting Mayor Keith Hovell said the unexpected resignation of a likely candidate - deputy chief executive Rex Capil - meant councillors needed to move decisively.

"The appointment was a business decision, nothing more, nothing less," Hovell said

"We had to ensure continuity and stability as we've got a couple of significant workstreams to get over the line - namely the 2024-34 Long Term Plan and the Proposed District Plan.

"We are a small council and do not have the resources to fill, at short notice, the significant gaps that the departure of the chief executive and deputy chief executive would leave."

In March, RNZ revealed that Bell and Parry had not spoken for months with another councillor subsequently appointed as a go-between for the mayor and chief executive.

Hovell confirmed that the intermediary would continue in that role.

The interim appointment was a confidential employment matter, but the terms and conditions of his temporary role had not been agreed upon, he said.

The council this morning confirmed Brannigans had been hired to recruit the new chief executive with hopes they would be named early next year.

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