Elder 'vindicated' by council decision

20:54, Nov 21 2012

Invercargill City councillor Norman Elder says he feels vindicated by the council's decision to revert to its previous method of selecting a chief executive.

The decision to scrap the changes made to the process was made at a extraordinary meeting on Tuesday from which the public was excluded.

The appointment process has been mired in controversy since Cr Elder, the chairman of the subcommittee tasked with drawing up a shortlist of candidates, resigned in October.

Current chief executive Richard King's contract must be renewed every five years under the Local Government Act 2002.

The subcommittee was to have overseen the selections made by an independent consultant before passing them on to the full council.

Cr Elder's resignation from the subcommittee followed it's decision to change the process, allowing it to interview the final 10 candidates and have a say on who should be on the shortlist.

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Mayor Tim Shadbolt asked council lawyers to review the process after he was advised that the subcommittee had not been given delegated authority to do anything, with Tuesday night's meeting the result.

Mr Shadbolt said it was a positive conclusion. "We decided to end on a positive note rather than carry on the fighting . . . maybe it was good Norm resigned, because it forced me to seek a legal opinion on whether we were following the correct procedure and it turned out we weren't . . . I'd rather find that out in council than end up in court."

Cr Elder said he felt vindicated by the decision."I think it's a sensible outcome and I'm pleased it has reverted back."

He said he opposed the changes because it made the appointment less open. "I wanted it to be an objective process that was seen to be open, transparent and fair. I do feel vindicated."

The controversy had affected the council's reputation, he said.

Councillor Carolyn Dean, a member of the subcommittee, was not at Tuesday's meeting due to illness.

She said she had never promoted the subcommittee acting alone and had always wanted the full council to be involved.

The Southland Times