An independent review of the Invercargill City Council says Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt is struggling to fulfill significant aspects of his job and as a result there is a leadership void at the council.
The council released the findings from an independent review into the council which was prompted by the Department of Internal Affairs which raised concerns about the council’s performance.
The review put together by two independent consultants after gathering feedback from elected members and senior staff.
The report says there is a clear consensus that Shadbolt is struggling in the role.
It has been apparent for some time Sir Tim has been struggling.
I am fond of Sir Tim, who is a genuine character. In the mid 90s I had to meet him around the Scout Jamboree at Te Anau, to discuss opportunities for Invercargill from it. He turned up half an hour late to his own Council luncheon for us, and brought a bag of McDonalds which he offered around. It was, we were told, typical Tim.
He has been a great Ambassador and proponent for Invercargill. He has never been one of those Mayors who was over the fine details of every issue, but he certainly was able to provide leadership and direction.
It seems clear he is no longer able to do that. He is now aged 73 and while some people at that age remain sharp as a tack, I think it is clear Sir Tim is feeling the burden of age.
Sir Tim is struggling with the job, and I don’t think it is a struggle that can be overcome.
The report also says ‘three southern mayors’ contacted report authors Bruce Robertson and Richard Thomson raising concerns about Shadbolt.
The report says Shadbolt’s difficulties are becoming increasingly apparent.
Shadbolt, deputy mayor Nobby Clark, and chief executive fronted the media on Monday soon after media were provided a copy of the review.
Councillors also attended.
To the shock of everyone in attendance, Shadbolt went about reading a lengthy statement where he rubbished much of the report findings saying he felt he had been unfairly singled out as part of the review.
That is despite Shadbolt, in a public excluded meeting on November 12, voting in favour of accepting the report.
“The actual content of the report I’m not willing to wear. The report will have you believe that the dysfunction of this current council rests squarely on myself and my new deputy Nobby Clark.
I don’t think anyone is saying there are not other issues around the Council, but that doesn’t mean that it is viable for Sir Tim to continue as Mayor.
The humane thing to do would be to find a more appropriate role for him that can utilise his great passion for Invercargill. Make him the Southern Ambassador to NZ, or make him the City Father or Patron. The Romans called it Pater Patriae.
But I don’t think the status quo is sustainable and it would be a real shame if his career had to end with the Government having to take over the Council.