Audit rejects claims of bullying: Parry

Steve Parry, Gore District Council chief executive

Claims of a toxic culture at the Gore District Council are another example of a ‘‘small group of disgruntled individuals being economical with the facts’’, chief executive Steve Parry says.

Mr Parry made the comment after The Ensign asked him to comment on the claim he led a toxic culture of bullying at the council.

The council’s annual health and safety audit, presented at last month’s audit and risk committee, found 88% of the staff surveyed felt the council had effective governance and leadership, Mr Parry said.

It also said 78% felt senior leaders created an environment of fairness and 73% believed the council engages with and empowered its workers.

An email was released to media on Sunday from council community lifestyle services general manager Rex Capil to Mr Parry.

In it Mr Capil described a conversation he had with a Southlander he met while sitting in the Christchurch Airport lounge.

‘‘They just wanted to tell me they know a staff member who has recently started at [the council] and who is just so very complimentary about the organisational culture she is experiencing at an operational level.

‘‘She thinks it is such a supportive environment at a staff level and a great operational environment.’’

In reply, Mr Parry commented the person’s opinion should be considered alongside the petition calling for his removal.

‘‘Needless to say, it is far more informed and on point than the saliva-filled toxin emanating from people who have just heard [things] on the grapevine, not witnessed.’’

Mr Capil also said the operational culture and the senior leadership team was the best he had been involved with in local government.

‘‘That is to do with the people and the leadership from the [chief executive] through to each individual who makes up the whole team.

‘‘It is important this is not lost in the noise of the minority or those less informed than others.’’

A second petition organised by Hayden McIntyre calling for Mr Parry’s resignation was received at the council on Monday.

The petition, signed by more than 300 people, was a good cross-section of the community, Mr McIntyre said.

‘‘Old and young, rural and urban, have all come together to request the council gets rid of Mr Parry once and for all.’’

Deputy mayor Keith Hovell said the council had a signed contract with Mr Parry to fill the role of interim chief executive until a new chief executive took over.

‘‘The appointment of an interim chief executive, as with any positions within the council, is an employment matter and not subject to public vote via petition.’’

Gore District Mayor Ben Bell said he had asked Mr Parry to add the petition to the council’s November 21 meeting agenda.

‘‘As for my perspective on the specifics of this petition, it would be inappropriate to state an opinion before the 21st of November.’’