Horowhenua's mayor gives up on attempt to reinstate ousted deputy

Local government minister Anne Tolley says she is glad Horowhenua's mayor is no longer trying to reinstate his ousted deputy.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Local government minister Anne Tolley says she is glad Horowhenua's mayor is no longer trying to reinstate his ousted deputy.

Horowhenua's mayor has given up on a crusade to re-instate his ousted deputy after the local government minister told him it was a hopeless cause.

In December last year Feyen's choice of deputy mayor, Ross Campbell, was ousted by a nine other councillors, who then replaced him with their selection, Wayne Bishop.

Feyen said during a council meeting in April that he did not trust Bishop and would once again be referring to Campbell as his No 2.

Horowhenua's mayor Michael Feyen accepts there's nothing he can do about his choice as deputy mayor getting ousted.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Horowhenua's mayor Michael Feyen accepts there's nothing he can do about his choice as deputy mayor getting ousted.

But this pursuit has come to a halt now after Feyen failed to gain the support of the minister, Anne Tolley, leaving him with no choice but to back down.

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When   Tolley met with Feyen in Levin on Tuesday, she told him there were no loopholes in the law, and the deputy elected by the majority of councillors overruled Feyen's choice.

Horowhenua deputy mayor Wayne Bishop is glad Feyen is once again accepting him as deputy mayor.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Horowhenua deputy mayor Wayne Bishop is glad Feyen is once again accepting him as deputy mayor.

"The law's pretty clear and I went through that with the council." Tolley said. "There's no flaw in it."

It wasn't always a "happy marriage" between a mayor and deputy, but the council needed to put its differences aside, Tolley said.

"It's a huge honour to be elected to council and they have a responsibility as a council to work together for the benefit of the people."

Despite the council disagreeing on some big issues, there was no reason for the minister to get involved, Tolley said.

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"That's not for a minister to interfere with. Come around the council table and make those decisions for the community. It's a very high bar before central government would ever get involved."

Tolley said she was glad Feyen had decided to drop the issue, she said.

Although Feyen still believed the law was a "grey area", in which he should be able to reinstate his ousted deputy, he said that under the present Government the legislation would not change.

"We've got it from [Tolley's] mouth. I'm not going to put up a battle with no resources and no will from the Government.

Feyen planned to email all councillors to inform them he would once again recognise Bishop as his deputy.

Bishop said it was encouraging Feyen had decided to accept his position. 

It was a good step, which was helped by Tolley who had provided clarity on the matter, Bishop said. 

Feyen was also unlikely to see an end to the formal process created for his communication with council chief executive David Clapperton, which is restricted to fortnightly or weekly committee meetings, with others present.

The "chief executive relationship committee" was formed at a public-excluded meeting on April 11.

It restricts Feyen's communication with Clapperton to meetings chaired by Bishop and attended by councillor Victoria Kaye-Simmons.

Tolley said she understood the committee was a way to allow the pair to communicate constructively. "It's always a worry when there's a difficultly in relationship between the mayor and chief executive."

But they were "grown men" and had to work together for the benefit of the community, Tolley said.

"You can fight about this forever in a day, backwards and forwards, but actually, in the end, your community wants you to get on with it and act as a council. So put it all aside and move forward."

 - Stuff

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