Gore Mayor Ben Bell would not comment on the fact that his councilors have been discussing a vote of no confidence against him, although no vote has taken place.
Bell is only six months into his three-year term as mayor of the Gore District, but the fact that council members have already considered a vote of no confidence in his leadership doesn’t seem to have phased him.
“I wasn’t in the room at the time and I don’t know what was said so I can’t comment on it, or how it made me feel,” he said.
Most councilors were unanimous in their support for Bell, but one said it was a “very traumatic time” for the council.
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They also support council chairman Stephen Parry, said Thursday that his relationship with Bell was “very strained.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior said the Ministry was aware of the situation and was monitoring it.
“We will likely contact the council as we would any council with significant negative media exposure,” the spokesperson said.
But councilors are tight-lipped about the ‘mistrust’ discussion.
A resolution passed unanimously at the meeting was that a council member will be appointed as a “dedicated intermediary between the mayor and the chief executive officer for governance and relevant operational matters.”
Cr Richard McPhail has confirmed he will act as intermediary between the pair, subject to council approval.
“I can confirm that I am the council member who will assist, but that is still in the process of confirming that appointment at the April council meeting,” he said.
“I believe this is in the best interest of the Gore community and the council and this is a step forward.”
McPhail, who was formerly Gore’s senior police officer and wash awarded with a QSM for services to the police and the community, said the council was still working on the terms of reference and what the position would entail.
When asked how he would have voted had there been a vote of no confidence at Tuesday’s meeting, McPhail said: “I believe in a functioning council.”
Deputy Mayor Keith Hovell said “next question” when asked how he would have voted.
When asked if he supported the mayor, he said, “The mayor and councilors are all elected by the community, and collectively and individually I support them in their roles.”
Cr John Gardyne said there was discussion at the meeting about a vote of no confidence in the mayor, but as it was being held in committee he did not want to talk about it.
He would not say how he would have voted, but said he still supported the mayor.
Gardyne said he was concerned about Bell and Parry’s relationship.
“They need to get along a little better. There’s guilt on both sides I’d say, but that’s all I’m saying.”
CR Bret Highsted, who has had his own battles with Bellsaid he would not comment on which way he would have voted.
When asked if he was concerned about the breakdown in communications between Bell and Parry, he said, “I’m not going to get into this.”
Cr Neville Phillips would not say which way he would have voted, but said he still supported Bell.
“I still support the mayor, very much. We’re all in this together,” he said.
cr. Paul McPhail said he was told by city officials not to comment on the situation, so he wouldn’t say how he would vote, but when asked if he supported the mayor, he said “absolutely”.
“That’s my only comment,” he said.
Cr Joe Stringer also declined to comment on how he would vote, but said he supported both Bell and Parry.
“It’s between them though, and I won’t comment on that.”
Gore Mayor Ben Bell after the Gore District Council Statutory Meeting
CR Stewart MacDonell, who was Bell’s first choice as deputy mayor before being replaced by Keith Hovellwould also not comment on the vote.
When asked if he still supports the mayor, he simply replied ‘yes’.
Alderman Glenys Dickson would not comment on her vote, but said Bell was elected by the Gore precinct, and so was she, so yes, she supported the mayor.
“It’s a very traumatic time right now, but we’ll get there,” she said.
Cr Bronwyn Reid did not call back for comment and Cr Robert McKenzie could not be reached.