Shadbolt misses out on dinner with 'Ruby'
LOUISE BERWICK , TERRI RUSSELL AND EVAN HARDING
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt was looking forward to repairing relationships over dinner with "Ruby".
But he felt like a "jilted lover" when she never showed up.
The dinner at the Local Government New Zealand Conference in July could have provided the perfect opportunity for Environment Southland and the Invercargill City Council to make up, Mr Shadbolt said. Mr Shadbolt, city council chief executive Richard King and Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow had been seated with Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms and Nick Horrell and Rob Phillips, also from Environment Southland.
But instead of sitting with their Invercargill brothers, the Environment Southland delegates chose to sit elsewhere.
The relationship between the two councils had frosted over last year when it was revealed Ms Timms rang Cue TV's City Talk programme posing as a woman called Ruby in order to grill Mr Shadbolt over the Auckland to Bluff Yacht Race.
Mr Shadbolt said this week he had been looking forward to sitting with Ms Timms and her Environment Southland comrades, not only to "make amends" but also to discuss the region's future and catch up on local news.
"We were quite delighted ... when we saw we were sitting with the regional council.
"We would have been able to have a jolly good chinwag with Ruby."
But, much to Mr Shadbolt's disappointment, he was stood up by the regional council trio who never took their seats at the table. The city council contingent felt like "jilted lovers", he said.
But the Environment Southland trio this week dismissed claims they had snubbed their city counterparts.
Ms Timms said it was "absolutely incorrect" that she moved to another table because she did not want to sit with Mr Shadbolt.
Local Government New Zealand had made the seating arrangements but councils were always advised the arrangements were flexible to give attendees the opportunity to network and exchange ideas, she said.
"I have attended several of these now and it's common practice for people to swap tables and seats at the beginning of the night and through the evening. It gives opportunities to engage with peers, particularly those from other regional councils, on issues and ideas we have in common."
When asked if it was her idea to move away from the city council contingent, she said she was struggling to remember because it was eight weeks ago.
When it was suggested she and Mr Shadbolt were not the best of mates, she said she got on well with Mr Shadbolt and had chatted with him at a recent meeting of southern councils in Dunedin where he had introduced his son to her.
Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said the trio had sat with his ex-colleagues from Taranaki.
There had been "absolutely no intention" not to sit with the city council trio, he said.
However, Mr Shadbolt said he would be concerned if they wanted to sit with North Islanders and not their "mainland neighbours".
"I would be mortified to discover they had asked to be transferred from their kith and kin."
He did not know what may have lured them to sit elsewhere but said the city council delegates had a "good night" despite being stood up. "I guess she had a premonition about our seating arrangements."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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