Group silent over bid to oust chairman

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

The group of four Cromwell Community Board members who tried to remove Neil Gillespie as board chairman have ignored requests for comment and still not given reasons for their actions.

Robin Dicey, Annabel Blaikie, Werner Murray and Shirley Calvert made a requisition for a meeting to remove Mr Gillespie as board chairman but this week withdrew their requisition.

When announcing the withdrawal on Tuesday. Central Otago District Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said it was “good that the requisition has been withdrawn. This will allow for the board to work collectively to represent the residents and ratepayers of the Cromwell ward.”

None of the group of four had announced any reasons for trying to oust Mr Gillespie and Facebook comment about the group’s move last week largely questioned it.

Most people supported Mr Gillespie and/or wondered why the group was trying to oust him, and many wondered how the board could continue to work together when it was divided.

In a statement yesterday, Ms Jacobs said the group felt its actions had “resulted in some consequences, namely the high level of media interest and concern in the community . As a result [they] have agreed to withdraw the requisition and discuss their concerns informally.”

Facebook reaction to Tuesday’s announcement included a comment that calling off the meeting was “a common-sense result all round”, but another asked: “how will they [board members] work together when there is no trust within the board?”

Former Cromwell Community Board member Helen Hucklebridge said on Facebook “common sense should have prevailed before they [the group] took the action – but better now than at a public meeting. However, in the meantime their action has caused unbelievable stress to Neil, his family and his colleagues. How can they [the group] now say that they didn’t anticipate or intend the high level of media interest and community concern?”

A Facebook comment from someone else said “just goes to show it is not always out with the old in with the new, pleasing to note that both places have used there [sic] common sense in what never, ever should have become an issue .. hold your head high Neil it should be obvious that you are a most valued member of the community first, then the board.”

When approached for comment, Mr Gillespie, as well as fellow board members members Anna Harrison and Nigel McKinlay and Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan, who had all supported Mr Gillespie, said they were pleased the requisition for a meeting had been withdrawn, so the board could continue representing and assisting the Cromwell district.

The News has sent various sets of questions to the group of four, including asking if they were going to announce what their reasons were for trying to oust Mr Gillespie; if they had any mandate from the community for their actions; if they thought the community board could continue to function after the incident; if the only reason they had withdrawn their requisition was because of the publicity it created; and if they still had concerns about Mr Gillespie and wished to remove him as board chairman.

The News also asked the group for comment about some conflicting statements some of them had made, including Mr Dicey and Mr Murray initially saying Mr Gillespie, who is a Cromwell ward councillor and deputy mayor, was doing a good job as chairman, but they would prefer a non-councillor to take over as chairman.

Ms Calvert had signalled to Mr Cadogan she was interested in becoming chairwoman, but she is also on the board as a Cromwell councillor.

None of the group of four has responded to any of the questions.

Ms Jacobs said the withdrawal of the requisition would mean the previously scheduled September 19 meeting would not take place, and the board would be able to “work collectively to represent the residents and ratepayers of the Cromwell ward. This will be done through a facilitated discussion and by meeting to discuss the way the board works with the council.”