Con­cil­ia­tory meet­ing can­celled

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - CHRIS MOR­RIS chris.mor­

THE Otago Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis So­ci­ety’s un­der­siege ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee has pulled out of a meet­ing planned to try to re­solve an ac­ri­mo­nious split in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The meet­ing, called for by mem­bers amid al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing, con­flicts of in­ter­est, dys­func­tion and a pub­lic protest in Dunedin last month, had been sched­uled for this Satur­day.

How­ever, so­ci­ety mem­ber Michael Har­ri­son, who had been at­tempt­ing to bro­ker the get­to­gether, yes­ter­day con­firmed the com­mit­tee had pulled out of the gath­er­ing.

A let­ter sent this week by so­ci­ety pres­i­dent Bev­erly Glenn to Otago mem­bers con­firmed the de­ci­sion, which was based on ad­vice from Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis So­ci­ety of New Zealand and its lawyers, he said.

In­stead, mem­bers would have to wait un­til the Otago so­ci­ety’s next an­nual meet­ing to voice their con­cerns and push for a new com­mit­tee.

The AGM had been sched­uled for March, but had now been brought for­ward to Jan­uary — the ear­li­est time avail­able to hold the meet­ing, Mr Har­ri­son said.

The ex­ist­ing com­mit­tee, which in­cluded Mrs Glenn and her hus­band, trea­surer David Glenn, had also in­vited Mr Har­ri­son on to the com­mit­tee in the mean­time.

Mr Har­ri­son said he planned to ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion and work through the ‘‘tran­si­tion pe­riod’’ to a new com­mit­tee, to en­sure it was ‘‘in the best po­si­tion to move for­ward for a very pos­i­tive 2018’’.

The ex­ist­ing com­mit­tee was also look­ing to ap­point new staff, in per­ma­nent and fixed­term po­si­tions, even as two for­mer staff con­tin­ued to work through per­sonal griev­ance claims. Mr Har­ri­son told the Otago Daily

he had spo­ken to a ‘‘hand­ful’’ of other mem­bers who were happy with progress towards a new com­mit­tee, but ac­cepted oth­ers would not be happy with the de­lay.

Mr Glenn, who has pre­vi­ously de­nied claims of bul­ly­ing, would not com­ment on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments when con­tacted yes­ter­day.

He had pre­vi­ously in­di­cated he and his wife would not seek re­elec­tion when their terms ended at next year’s an­nual meet­ing.

Mr Har­ri­son said that was still his un­der­stand­ing yes­ter­day, although in­cum­bent com­mit­tee mem­bers were free to stand again.

Some, ex­clud­ing Mr and Mrs Glenn, had al­ready in­di­cated they in­tended to do so, Mr Har­ri­son said.

The new com­mit­tee could have up to 12 mem­bers, and Mr Har­ri­son was aware of more than 12 peo­ple pre­par­ing to stand as can­di­dates for the first time next year.

‘‘How that vote would go would be a demo­cratic process,’’ he said.

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