Some Auckland councillors are ramping up their criticism of Mayor Phil Goff, accusing him of overseeing a culture of bullying and arrogance.
Councillors Sharon Stewart and Chris Fletcher have spoken out about a culture of bullying and disrespectful behaviour by Goff and his team.
A mayoral spokesman responded to the latest accusations with a statement: "Bullying is unacceptable and the Mayor takes any allegation of this sort of behaviour seriously. He has invited Councillor Fletcher to discuss her concerns with him directly today."
Stewart told the Herald that a letter of "strong dissatisfaction" sent to Goff by nine of his 19 councillors over his leadership amounted to a no confidence vote in the mayor.
"It feels like a bit of a bullying culture," said Stewart, who said she had experienced bullying but had always voted according to her conscience.
The Howick councillor claimed to have been bullied over the council's regional fuel tax of 11.5 cents a litre, which she opposed.
And in a separate letter sent by Fletcher to Goff today she said: "Bullying in any form is unacceptable to me."
The Albert-Eden councillor and former Auckland City Mayor said she signed the earlier letter not just because of the stadium strategy and PwC report, but rather the "arrogant and disrespectful behaviour by your team to some councillors which has led them to become hurt and marginalised".
"I voted for you. I want you to be successful in advancing positive policy for Auckland but I want to see better process and an inclusive council workplace where all councillors are treated respectfully," Fletcher's letter to Goff said.
The councillors behind the letter cite Goff's handling of the recent controversy over a proposed new downtown stadium for Auckland and his refusal to give councillors full and open access to a report by PwC costing about $935,000 as the reasons for the move.
It was a significant report that was supposed to cost up to $600,000, but that only came to light thanks to a successful Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request from the media, the letter says.
Councillors John Watson, Wayne Walker, Greg Sayers, Mike Lee, Cathy Casey, Efeso Collins, Chris Fletcher, Daniel Newman and Sharon Stewart signed the letter.
Over the course of a year Goff had made no attempt to inform councillors on the contents of the report, the letter read.
The councillors said if this was an isolated incident we might have been tempted to raise the appropriate objections and mark it down to experience.
"Unfortunately, however, this is a reflective of a leadership style that has become increasingly apparent as the term has progressed," the letter said.
The councillors pointed to a "rather distrustful political working environment within council" going back to a December meeting where Goff attempted to remove Albany councillor Wayne Walker as deputy chairman of the regulatory committee, to be replaced by deputy mayor Bill Cashmore.
At the meeting Goff faced a barrage of criticism over his leadership style and the hurt he inflicted on Walker, whose only warning was a phone message.
The councillors said in the letter they hoped the December incident might have provided an opportunity to start afresh and ensure a more positive and constructive working relationship.
"This hasn't happened...the result is a rather distrustful political working environment within council.
"Quite simply the question of trust and transparency within the Auckland Council is getting worse, not better, as far as we are concerned.
"We, the undersigned, therefore wish to formally register our strong dissatisfaction at the way in which this matter and others are being handled by you as mayor and in particular the non-inclusive style of leadership it is revealing," the letter said.
Yesterday, Goff played down any possible criticism in him, saying he had just received unanimous support in glowing terms for his 10-year budget, unlike former Mayor Len Brown's last 10-year budget, which was passed with a bare majority.
Goff's budget was carried at a governing body meeting on May 31, but seven councillors had their votes recorded against various clauses.
"On what matters to Aucklanders I have received strong support," he said.
A mayoral spokesman said Goff was expected to formally respond to the letter today.