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Accusations fly over voting plan

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012

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Fallout between Timaru district councillors over next year's voting process has increased, with accusations of intimidation, personal attacks and childish behaviour.

Temuka ward councillor and community board chairman Pat Mulvey made the intimidation comment after two councillors turned up to all three community board meetings this week.

Normally one councillor is rostered to attend each meeting, but Cr Mulvey sees the move of two councillors attending as an attempt to intimidate board members over the representation issue.

Earlier this month councillors agreed 6-5 to go with 10 councillors elected across the whole district at next year's election, rather than the present ward system.

"That is a wee bit of intimidation really," he said, explaining he had never previously known two councillors to attend.

Cr Hamish Fraser was rostered to attend the Temuka meeting on Monday night, and Cr Jo Taylor was also there. She left after representation was discussed and Cr Mulvey had denied the pair speaking rights.

"If she was truly interested in the Temuka community, she would probably have stayed and listened, just for information on what was happening in the community." Cr Mulvey said.

He wanted the community board's response to the council to be based on board members' own views and comments the public had made to them. He believed the councillors would have attempted to sway the board if they had spoken.

Asked whether it was becoming a personality, rather than issues-based matter for councillors, Cr Mulvey said it was still about representation, but it was getting more personal with some of the comments being made.

Cr Steve Earnshaw described Tuesday's Pleasant Point Community Board meeting as one of the most bizarre he had attended, saying the chairman, Cr Richard Lyon, delivered a "tirade of vitriol that was neither logical nor reasonable", and was "essentially insults" which Cr Earnshaw had no doubt were aimed at him.

Cr Earnshaw was rostered to attend the meeting, while Cr Fraser also did.

Two board members had said they would like to hear from the councillors, but Cr Lyon refused. Cr Earnshaw said at every other community board meeting he had attended, councillors were often asked for comment.

"Behaving in this way was quite bizarre, wasn't normal and was outright rude . . . it was very childish behaviour and disappoints me".

Cr Earnshaw said Crs Mulvey and Lyon were "concerned that they might not get re-elected and are obviously taking it very personally . . . it is around principles, fairness and what I believe to be the best governance system for our district."

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Cr Lyon described his comments at Tuesday's meeting as "passionate", rather than it being a rude tirade.

The board will put in a submission on the at-large option during the council's month-long public consultation period which begins on September 8.

- The Timaru Herald

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