Timms keeps her job - narrowly

01:52, Jan 25 2013

Beleaguered Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms has vowed to move forward after narrowly surviving a confidence vote yesterday.

Ms Timms' supporters won the vote 7-5 after a frank debate yesterday morning.

Supporting her were councillors Marion Miller, Ross Cockburn, Peter Jones and Grant Hubber. Ms Timms also voted.

Councillors Rowly Currie, Brian Mason, Jan Riddell, Maurice Rodway and Robert Guyton voted against her.

Ms Timms has been on leave since last month, when it was revealed she had called Cue TV's City Talk programme posing as a woman called Ruby in order to question Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt over the just-announced Auckland to Bluff Yacht Race.

Councillors had an opportunity to address the meeting before the vote.

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Those supporting her said she had done a good job as chairman and her mistake should not cost her her job.

Cr Marion Miller said Ms Timms was "the most competent and professional chair Environment Southland has ever had" but had made "one silly mistake".

However, some of those voting against her called for her resignation and said her credibility had been destroyed.

Among them was Cr Mason, who said Ms Timms was the aggressor in the acrimony that had riven the council for the past two years and she had gone into the job with an agenda to get rid of then-chief executive Ciaran Keogh - who resigned in February and lodged a personal grievance claim - and had mishandled the response to the Waituna Lagoon by alienating farmers in the catchment.

At yesterday's meeting, Ms Timms apologised to all Southlanders, but said she was not a quitter and did not believe what she did negated the work she had done as chairman.

During the past six weeks, she had received "overwhelming support", she said. Speaking after the meeting, Ms Timms said she would approach the next months in the same way she had her last two years as chairman, and the council would continue to function.

"I have never had the support of some of those councillors. They didn't vote for me to be chair, but that doesn't mean we had a divided or disrupted council."

Ms Timms said there were many serious issues for the council to deal with and it was time to look to the future.

She did not expect all the councillors to agree with her and it was not a dictatorship. The public would have the chance to judge her record in October, she said.

The five councillors who voted against Ms Timms said she would have to regain the trust of Southland and the council had to work together to move forward.

Some of those who supported her said the council was no more divided now than the rest of the term and councillors needed to get on with the job they were elected to do.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he hoped they could work positively together in the future.

The Southland Times