Tauranga City councillor Gail McIntosh will be allowed to Skype into meetings while she waits to see whether her cancer treatment has been successful.

"My brain is back in gear and I am raring to go," she told the Bay of Plenty Times from her Otumoetai home, yesterday.

However, the drugs she is taking as part of her treatment for lymphoma mean she struggles to even get around the house, let alone travel into town for meetings.

Her two months' leave of absence from the council expired on September 3 but her walking difficulties mean she is physically unable reach the debating chamber.

I can't see any reason why we can't use Skype.

After three courses of chemotherapy, she has had a CT scan and is now waiting for an MRI scan, to see whether the treatment had been successful. Cr McIntosh did know how long she would have to wait to get an MRI scan and it could be up to a month.

The cancer has not prevented her from receiving briefing papers and other documents, and talking among fellow councillors about issues, particularly since her chemotherapy ended.

She said councillors spent a lot of time emailing each other on issues and she was copied into those emails.

The timing of her decision about whether to continue as a councillor is crucial. If her health prevents her from continuing as a councillor and her resignation is received within 12 months of next October's elections, then the council could decide to either continue with nine councillors or hold a byelection. However, if Cr McIntosh's resignation is received before the 12-month cut-off, the council has to hold a byelection.

Judging from the October 9 to October 13 election dates since 2004, it means she has less than a month to make a decision in order for a byelection to become automatic.

Otherwise it will be at the discretion of the council.

Cr McIntosh said she had not aware of these provisions in the Local Electoral Act.

"I think I will survive the next 12 months ... I'll be fine," she said.


The idea that she could attend meetings remotely through an audio-visual link was made by Councillor Catherine Stewart. "I will have to put my wig on."

The council agreed, on July 22, to allow members to participate in meetings via an audio or audio-visual link. It was intended to accommodate a councillor's illness or infirmity, or in an emergency.

Council members had to be physically present to count towards the quorum.

"I can't see any reason why we can't use Skype because she is interested in what is going on," Cr Stewart said.