A petition calling for the resignation of Gore District Council’s chief executive Stephen Parry has been thrown out.
At a council meeting this afternoon, Mayor Ben Bell presented the petition, which had 4858 signatures calling for the head of Parry.
Parry and Bell have had a fraught relationship since Bell was elected mayor in October last year. They had stopped talking and an intermediary was appointed to work between them.
Under council standing orders, Bell was unable to speak to the petition as he presented it to council.
Councillor Richard McPhail said legal advice sought by the council said the employment of a chief executive was not a matter for public debate and it was a private employment matter between the council and the chief executive.
The hard-working staff had been subject to much abuse in the past few weeks, yet still turned up to work every day and did their jobs, McPhail said.
Councillor Glenys Dickson said staff needed support from the council and the petition broke rules around being able to be accepted. Her name was on the petition but she did not sign it.
The council did not accept the petition.
Bell was the lone voice to not support the council motion.
Last year, the Southland town elected New Zealand’s youngest-ever mayor, when Bell, then aged 23, won the mayoralty by just eight votes.
Bell was set to face a vote of no confidence from councillors last month, but they backed out of it after a strong public backlash and national media scrutiny.
Of those who signed the petition calling for Parry’s resignation, at least 9 per cent were from Gore, 12 per cent were from Southland, 46 per cent from the rest of New Zealand and 29 per cent did not state a location, a report by council staff said.