Gore Mayor Ben Bell is challenging whether he can be removed from the chief executive’s appraisal committee.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council held on March 28, councillors discovered there had been a breakdown in the relationship between Mr Bell and council chief executive Steve Parry.

After Mr Bell left the meeting, councillors passed resolutions the mayor should be removed from the appraisal committee and Cr Richard McPhail be appointed as an intermediary between the two.

At last night’s meeting when councillors were discussing the terms of reference for the appraisal committee, Mr Bell quoted the Local Government Act 2002 section 41A5, which states a mayor is a member of every council committee.

“While I can be removed, I am still technically a member of that committee,” Mr Bell said.

Mayor Ben Bell and chief executive Steve Parry. Photo: ODT

Mr Parry said he discussed the matter with the council’s lawyer, who verbally advised him the mayor could be removed from a committee.

However, he could ask the lawyer for a written legal opinion, Mr Parry said.

In the discussion Cr McPhail asked the mayor if he wished to remain on the committee.

“By virtue of the Act I am still on the committee,” Mr Bell said.

When Cr McPhail repeated the question, Mr Bell said it was irrelevant whether he wished to stay or not.

“I am a member of that committee regardless,” he said.

Councillors agreed to a resolution that a written legal opinion be sought.

When councillors were discussing the terms of reference for Cr McPhail’s intermediary role, Mr Bell asked councillors what their reasoning was for appointing an intermediary.

Some of the proposed functions of the intermediary he could understand but there were others which did not seem to make sense, Mr Bell said.

For example he did not know why his role of authorising and approving the chief executive’s credit card statements and annual leave had been given to the intermediary, he said.

Cr Neville Phillips said councillors wanted to make sure the council continued to function efficiently.

Cr Bronwyn Reid said councillors needed to be a good employer and ensure the well-being of the chief executive.

Earlier in the meeting councillors passed Cr Keith Hovell’s motion that an independent review be commissioned to advise on practical measures that could be undertaken to restore confidence in the council.