Sister city signing process sparks row

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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The heated debate over the signing of a sister city agreement with Chinese city Suqian continued last night.

Despite the debate, which was fuelled after Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt signed the sister city agreement without the council formally voting on it, the finance and policy committee endorsed it and confirmed the mayor's actions.

Shadbolt signed the sister city agreement last month when a delegation from the Chinese city visited.

Councillor Ian Pottinger said in the meeting that he was not hitting out at Shadbolt because he was not against a sister city agreement but at the fact the procedures had not been followed.

But Tim Shadbolt fired back at Cr Pottinger.

"If you go through anything with a fine toothed comb you would find somewhere we haven't followed procedure."

He said it was easy to find things wrong with something if you are opposed to it.

"It's almost impossible to follow 100 per cent procedure all the time."

Several councillors expressed concern with the negativity around the agreement when it could be important for Southland businesses.

Councillor Graham Lewis said China was important to tourism in the South and by turning down the agreement it could harm Southland's reputation.

"I wouldn't want to reverse this agreement, we would be creating a lot of ill will with China generally."

All the committee members voted to endorse the five-year agreement with the city, except for Lindsay Abbott.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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