Environment Southland breakfast treat

Environment Southland councillors and staff were treated to an $1800 ratepayer-funded breakfast consisting of bacon, sausages, muffins and more yesterday morning.

Environment Southland communications manager Michele Poole - who answered The Southland Times' questions about the breakfast on behalf of chief executive Rob Phillips - would not comment on whether it was appropriate to be shouting its staff and councillors a ratepayer-funded breakfast given their actions have put them offside with ratepayers in recent months.

The Environment Southland compliance division has been in the spotlight for the way it operates and Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms was outed for making a fake phone call to Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt on live television.

Ms Poole said she would ask Mr Phillips to ring the Times to comment on the appropriateness of the breakfast, but said he was busy and may not ring. Mr Phillips did not ring.

"If you want to make an issue of this, fair enough, it's your call, but I would have thought there were other more significant things going on," Ms Poole said.

Environment Southland has held one breakfast meeting a year for staff and councillors since 2000, and this year was no different, she said.

Staff went to work 30 minutes early yesterday and were given breakfast and Mr Phillips spoke to them, she said.

"The purpose of it is so the chief executive of the day can talk to them about the year ahead and things affecting the organisation."

The cost of the breakfast, attended by 97 staff and eight councillors, was $1837.50, she said.

On the menu was cereal, fruit, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, toast, muffins, juice, tea and coffee.

The Southland Times