Council issues improve

Ben Bell and Stephen Parry. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Good progress is being made to sort out the differences around the Gore District Council table, Mayor Ben Bell says.
While it was early days, there had been improvement and communication was far more open, Mr Bell said.
He could not predict the future.
‘‘It could all turn to custard again but I would hope the changes that we’ve made prevent that.’’
People were more open if issues arose, but restoring trust would take time, he said.
‘‘It’s a healing process.’’
In April, councillors approved a motion that an independent review be commissioned to advise on practical measures that could be taken to restore confidence in the council, that terms of reference be drawn up for the review and that the council commit to following through on recommendations.
This followed a breakdown in the relationship between council chief executive Stephen Parry and Mr Bell and the leaking of information from public excluded council meetings.
At the council meeting last week , a letter to Department of Internal Affairs operational policy manager Anthea Oliver, updating her on the progress being made to resolve governance and performance issues within the council, was tabled.
In the August 4 letter, signed by Mr Bell, Mr Parry and councillor Keith Hovell on behalf of the councillors, it stated those involved had concerns that reexamining the past might not be helpful.
‘‘Therefore, we are collectively of the opinion that proceeding to undertake the proposed review may be counterproductive at this time.’’
On Tuesday councillors agreed to a motion to receive and note the letter.
After the meeting Mr Bell said while councillors were drawing up the terms of reference for the review, they were also taking part in workshops.
The topics of the workshops included the governance role of councillors, communication training, privacy issues and stress management.
Councillors were also considering the possible outcome of the review.
‘‘Realistically it was going to be more trainings and some tweaks.
‘‘So we’ve made those and ultimately if we didn’t have to spend the $130,000 for the review all the better.’’
Earlier this month Mr Parry resigned. He will finish on October 31.