Hiccup over new city chief executive

The Invercargill City Council's process in hiring its chief executive has become mired in controversy after the appointment process was changed midstream and a key decision-maker resigned in protest.

In June the city council appointed a subcommittee comprising Mayor Tim Shadbolt, Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow and four city councillors - Norman Elder, Neil Boniface, Carolyn Dean and Lindsay Abbott - to accept a consultant's recommended shortlist of candidates for the chief executive's job.

The consultant was responsible for interviewing the applicants and recommending who should be on the shortlist.

The full council passed a resolution on how the subcommittee should go about its business of shortlisting the candidates, but it is understood the subcommittee members decided to change the process when they met about a fortnight ago.

Cr Elder, who was chairman of the subcommittee, disagreed with what his fellow subcommittee members had done and subsequently resigned.

In effect, the subcommittee members decided they should be involved in interviewing the final 10 candidates and have a say on who should be on the shortlist - whereas the full council had earlier decided that a council consultant should do that job.

Cr Elder refused to speak about the matter yesterday, except to confirm he had resigned.

The Southland Times understands that at least two subcommittee members, Cr Abbott and Cr Dean, were involved in a private meeting with at least one other councillor, who is not a member of the subcommittee, to discuss how they could ensure the shortlist was made up of candidates they favoured.

Under the selection process that has now been introduced, if incumbent chief executive Richard King's name does not make the shortlist, the full council would not have the opportunity to reappoint him.

Cr Abbott, when he was asked to comment last night, declined to do so, while Cr Dean did not respond to calls.

Other subcommittee members contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Shadbolt and Mr Ludlow, both declined to comment.

Cr Boniface did not respond to calls.

The Southland Times understands about 35 people have applied for the chief executive's job, including former chief executives of other local authorities and three people already at the council, including Mr King.

The other council staffers who have applied for the post are understood to be two of Mr King's senior lieutenants.

The Southland Times