Con­tro­versy at mayor’s fo­rum

South Waikato News - - Community Cookbook - LUKE KIRKEBY

Things turned heated dur­ing South Waikato mayor Jenny Shat­tock’s first Open Public Fo­rum of the year.

Shat­tock an­nounced last year that be­fore each coun­cil meet­ing the public would have the chance to speak freely for five min­utes in order to have their say and for the coun­cil to then po­ten­tially fol­low up on mat­ters raised.

While the first 2017 fo­rum started smoothly, by the time fourth speaker Rod Young spoke things quickly changed.

Young, a reg­u­lar at coun­cil meet­ings, stated a num­ber of his con­cerns in­clud­ing dis­ap­proval of changes made to the An­nual Plan con­sul­ta­tion process, which were later cor­rected by Shat­tock, and his de­sire to see a com­mu­nity board es­tab­lished in Ara­puni.

Young then be­gan to ques­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Craig Hobbs’ value, call­ing for his sus­pen­sion in order to im­prove fall­ing pa­tron­age at the South Waikato In­door Pools and Sport and Events Cen­tre which he claims need new man­age­ment.

‘‘The only way [man­age­ment can change] is if we ad­dress the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and peo­ple that can’t be here to­day have asked me to say could we please pay out the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for the rest of the year and put him on gar­den­ing leave so we can get some­one in who will ad­dress those is­sues,’’ he said.

After warn­ing Young his com­ments were not ap­pro­pri­ate, Shat­tock in­ter­vened by ring­ing a bell.

‘‘I would rather you parked the per­sonal at­tacks you are mak­ing on our chief ex­ec­u­tive,’’ she said.

‘‘If there is any­thing we can do to sup­port our com­mu­nity we would be re­ally will­ing to hear that but I don’t want per­sonal at­tacks.’’

‘‘I didn’t want the fo­rums to de­te­ri­o­rate into per­sonal at­tacks so I am afraid peo­ple take from that what you will,’’ she said.

Hobbs de­scribed Young as ‘‘a lone voice’’ but said he was happy to hear from coun­cil­lors if they felt the same.

‘‘I would cer­tainly be more than happy to re­flect on that and re­spect it,’’ he said.

Coun­cil­lor Gray Bald­win said he was dis­gusted by Young’s con­duct and called for changes to the fo­rum rules.

A res­o­lu­tion is ex­pected to be tabled dur­ing the next coun­cil meet­ing which will pre­clude pre­sen­ters mak­ing per­sonal at­tacks.

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