Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen has succeeded in getting the issue of mayors being able to appoint their own deputies a step closer to being tabled at an upcoming national Local Government New Zealand conference.
Feyen raised the issue at a Rural and Provincial sector meeting in Wellington, where a vote among other provincial mayors showed majority support for a remit being put to the LGNZ conference.
The remit is that mayors should be able appoint their own deputies in the same way as currently happens in Auckland, Feyen said.
LGNZ spokesperson Daniel Webster confirmed Feyen's proposal had been supported by the Provincial Sector and would now go to the remit screening committee.
"If the committee supports the remit to progress, it will go forward to LGNZ's AGM at conference to be voted on." he said.
Feyen's appointment of fellow councillor Ross Campbell as Horowhenua's deputy mayor shortly after his election in 2016 was quickly quashed by the rest of the council, which then voted in current deputy Wayne Bishop amid shouting from the public gallery.
Feyen attempted to again address the issue at last week's council meeting but this was refused by the council, who at times threatened to leave the table to prevent him talking about it.
Feyen said the refusal was based on a technicality, as it had been raised under standing orders and the rules around this mean the same or similar issue can only be spoken to 12 months after the original standing order is made, while it had only been 11 months.
Councillor Barry Judd said at the meeting that the councillors may as well all stand up and leave if Feyen thought he had "the right to defy standing orders".
Feyen said he hadn't talked to his own deputy Wayne Bishop in about a year and had almost no relationship with him.
Bishop confirmed this was correct and said Feyen had repeatedly pulled out of meetings that had been set up between them.
Feyen said a special committee had been set up to facilitate communication between council chief executive David Clapperton and him and was also attended by Bishop and another councillor, Victoria Kaye-Simmons, but that he did not attend these meetings as he felt they were "untenable".
"[The committee] has been doctored up so I can't have a one-on-one with my CE," Feyen said.
Instead of one person getting ansty there's four."
Bishop said he believed Feyen had likely abandoned meeting with him as he knew he would challenge him and said the mayor's supporters were being led into "their happy place of conspiracy and delusion".
"The law currently states that a mayor can appoint his deputy," Bishop said.
"The remit Michael's pushing for is already in place. What he is really pushing for is that he wants the opportunity for democracy removed. He wants the mayor's decision as final."
Feyen said he was not interested in making personal comments about Bishop, and it was hypocritical to make claims about removing democracy in a council where he didn't see much of it, he said.
"In such a big position [as mayor] you really need someone you can converse with," he said. "I just want the law cleared up."