Tim Shadbolt skips protest for Chch graduation
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt was attending a police graduation ceremony in Christchurch instead of protesting against legal highs in his home town at the weekend.
Organisers of the Invercargill protest march on Saturday criticised Shadbolt and deputy mayor Darren Ludlow for failing to front.
Protest organiser Debbie Plank said Shadbolt's no-show was a ''bit of a kick in the teeth''.
However, city council spokeswoman Eirwen Harris said Shadbolt and Ludlow had not received invitations from organisers to attend the protest.
''If they had, Mayor Tim would have sent his apologies as he was at a prior engagement as a wing patron at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua,'' she said.
Shadbolt did catch the tail-end of a protest march against legal highs while he was in Christchurch.Ludlow also had a longstanding engagement out of Invercargill and would also have sent an apology if he had received an invitation from protest organisers, Harris said.
Protest co-organiser Sarah Haendgen said Shadbolt might not have been invited but he was definitely expected.
''People were chanting 'where's Tim, where's Tim'. There was a lot of disappointment.''
The protest march was well advertised, she said.
''He is the mayor, he should know what is happening in his own community. He is attending dinners and being the funny guy but when it comes to this nasty yucky stuff no one's turning up.''
Shadbolt said it was a ''bit unfair'' to say he should put one engagement above the other.
He had made his views against legal highs clear in two newspaper columns and had attended a public meeting against legal highs in the past, he said.
His pre-arranged Christchurch engagement was as patron of a wing of graduating police officers, two of whom had been assigned to Invercargill.
''You just can't do everything.''
Two city councillors who were at the protest march, Peter Kett and Rebecca Amundsen, said they had also not been invited, but had gone anyway.
The Southland Times