Hawke's Bay regional councillors have been given a dressing down ... about how they're dressing down.

At the first ordinary meeting of the newly-elected council, held in Napier yesterday, three of seven male councillors arrived wearing jackets and open-neck shirts.

This prompted a "request, not a demand" from chairman Fenton Wilson that they attend future meetings wearing neck ties in recognition that the business of the council "is a very formal process".

"I'd like you to consider it, gentlemen," he told the open-neck brigade of councillors Rick Barker, Tom Belford and Rex Graham, at the start of the meeting.


Mr Barker, who clashed with Mr Wilson a fortnight ago when the pair squared off in a battle for the chairman's role, said he would be happy to wear a tie to future meetings.

Graham Bell, the owner of Napier menswear store Alexanders on Tennyson and a veteran of almost 40 years in the fashion industry, said he supported Mr Wilson's stance.

"He's wanting to create a certain perception of the council and good on him."

Mr Bell said whether or not ties were part of an organisation's dress code depended on the image it was trying to project, and that image needed to be driven by its leaders and senior managers.

Regional Council's two female elected representatives - Christine Scott and Debbie Hewitt - were held to a similar standard by Mr Fenton and asked to dress in business attire when the council met.