13 Jun 2023

Petition calls for Gore chief executive Stephen Parry to resign

6:48 am on 13 June 2023
Gore District Council

Photo: Gore District Council

The Gore District Council will on Tuesday consider a petition calling for its chief executive to resign.

The nearly 5000-signature petition was received last month after a group of councillors called on mayor Ben Bell to resign.

Chief executive Stephen Parry and the 24-year-old mayor were not speaking, with their relationship so broken they entered into mediation in December.

The fallout of that fractured relationship had caused ructions around the council table since it was revealed in late March.

The council had been embroiled in controversy after controversy since Bell ousted long-time incumbent Tracy Hicks by eight votes in October.

A group of rebellious councillors last month called for Bell to resign, but backed down from a vote of no confidence.

Ben Bell, Gore

Gore mayor Ben Bell. Photo: Supplied / Facebook

The petition calling for Parry's resignation came in response.

A report, prepared by deputy chief executive Rex Capil to accompany the petition, said an analysis found a total of 54 duplicate signatories from the 4858 who signed it.

Just over 9 percent of the signatories said they were from Gore, 12 percent from Southland, 29 percent did not state their location and 46 percent said they were from elsewhere in New Zealand.

"A key point for the council to discuss and debate when considering whether to receive or not receive this petition is with respect to the petition status - including its validity, credibility and legality in terms of fulfilling its stated purpose. In other words, can the petition achieve what its purpose was intended and if not, what may be any unintended consequences for the council, especially as an employer?" Capil said.

The petition would be presented by Bell on behalf of its organiser, Sean Burke.

Capil noted the council unanimously agreed at an extraordinary meeting last month that, "the mayor and councillors support and have full confidence in the chief executive and staff in providing for the ongoing functioning of the council in undertaking its day-to-day activities".

It will be considered at today's meeting.

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