Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt left a meeting this afternoon convinced councillors had launched a vote of no-confidence against him, but several people present say that is not the case.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sir Tim said councillors “leapt forward in unity” at a closed meeting to launch the vote before they stormed out.
The incident happened about 2pm, and was the result of “an accumulation of reasons”, including a response he had given to media that turned heads in the meeting.
About 1pm — the same time the meeting began — Local Democracy Reporting received an email from the mayor which described the council as a “regime”.
The email was in response to questions raised about the mayor storing personal items in council-owned buildings across the city.
Sir Tim conceded the message had been written by partner Asha Dutt, and that its contents were not well received.
He was adamant attendees wanted him gone, but was not clear on how they had gained access to his personal email.
Cr Nobby Clark, who has had a tenuous relationship with the mayor since becoming his deputy, was present at the meeting and said Sir Tim’s version of events was incorrect.
Cr Clark said the chairs group asked the mayor to withdraw the comments made to media because it felt they were dishonest and left a staff member open to unfair criticism.
Deputy mayor Nobby Clark has a tenuous relationship with Sir Tim. Photo / Luisa Girao
When he refused to do so, Sir Tim was told his behaviour could lead to further action.
“I personally said to him at that meeting, ‘You cannot continue to distort the truth when it comes to this council.’
“We have more important issues to resolve.”
Cr Clark also warned the mayor his actions were heading him in the direction of a vote of no confidence, he said, but any such action would have to go through the full council.
Speaking after the incident, Sir Tim responded to a question about whether he would resign over what had happened with “Hell no”, and said he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Well, I’m going to take Declan [my son] to music lessons.
“I’ll do my best to promote the city as much as I can. These threats made against me will not put the city in a good light.”
Although the media response had been written by his partner, Sir Tim said he normally formulated his own replies.
“I’m not very good with technology so I dictate to her and she sends it off.
“That irritates them [other councillors] immensely, but, well, it’s just the way I operate.”
It has been a tumultuous ninth term for New Zealand’s longest-serving mayor.
In October, an independent review highlighted a “leadership void” with Sir Tim at the helm.
In May, it was revealed he had lost his license, but he never revealed why.
The following month, he opened up about a health condition he had developed called muscle tension dysphonia that was affecting his ability to “defend” himself.