Council divided as 'old guard' re-elected
The re-election of the "old guard" at Environment Southland has left the council divided.
Lumsden physiotherapist Ali Timms was re-elected for her second term as chairman after beating Browns sheep farmer Jan Riddell eight votes to four at the first meeting of the new council yesterday.
Mrs Riddell, who wanted openness on the council, said under Ms Timms' leadership the council was set for three more years of a "divide and conquer" approach.
Some councillors were kept more informed than others about council issues, she said.
"It is disrespectful of individuals around the table and the public," she said.
Challenging Ms Timms was a matter of principle for Mrs Riddell, who said it was healthy for democracy. "I think I've made my point," she said.
Ms Timms said there was plenty of knowledge, experience and ideas around the table and she had always been prepared to work with anyone who wanted to work with her.
Robust debate made for better outcomes, but when the council made a collective decision everyone was required to get stuck in and promote it, she said.
"All of us, councillors and staff, have to work together to ensure this council continues to deliver value for their ratepayers in the most efficient and effective manner."
Councillor Nicol Horrell was re-elected as deputy chairman after receiving more votes than Mrs Riddell.
Mrs Riddell was also outvoted when she stood for the chairmanship of the environmental management committee, won by Cr Horrell.
Before the selection of committee chairs, Cr Rowly Currie read a statement to councillors.
"Now that Ali and Nicol have been re-elected it will be interesting to see if the numbers game is employed again and again in which Ali's supporters pick up most of the spoils. I sincerely hope that selection will be on individual merit rather than for following the leader," he said.
But much to Cr Currie's disgust, three of the four committee chairs remained unchanged despite being challenged.
Speaking after the meeting, Cr Robert Guyton said the re-election of the "old guard" meant a lost opportunity to win back the confidence of the public.
"With Ms Timms back as chairwoman I expect more of the turbulence we experienced over the past three years," he said.
However, Ms Timms, also speaking after the meeting, said she was the right person for the job.
"I know what I'm facing this time. I'm really excited about what we're going to be doing in the next three years and I think I'm the right person to lead the council.
"I'm really pleased with the support around the table. I don't tell people how to vote - that's democracy," she said.
The council would go ahead with the Water and Land 2020 & Beyond project and take a collaborative approach with industry stakeholders, Ms Timms said.
In the battle for the chairmanship, Ms Timms had the support of councillors Horrell, Grant Hubber, Marion Miller, Neville Cook, Peter Jones, Lloyd McCallum and Ross Cockburn. Councillors Currie, Guyton and Maurice Rodway voted for Mrs Riddell.
Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said the new council was a "good team" and would build on the work achieved over the past three years.
No comments were made by councillors about the controversial "Ruby" affair.
Mrs Riddell also battled Ms Timms for the chairmanship in 2010.
WHO'S IN THE CHAIRS
Environment Southland chairman: Ali Timms (no change)
Environment Southland deputy chairman: Nicol Horrell (no change)
Environmental management committee chair: Nicol Horrell (no change)
Regional services committee chair: Ross Cockburn (no change)
Consents committee chair: Maurice Rodway (no change)
Corporate management and audit committee chair: Jan Riddell (replaces Nicol Horrell)
- © Fairfax NZ News
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