Highsted resigns

The drama continues around the Gore District Council table with the resignation of a popular and long-serving councillor.

Councillor Bret Highsted tendered his resignation on Monday, effective immediately.

A council spokeswoman said in a statement Cr Highsted had apologised in a letter to deputy mayor Keith Hovell, for commenting to an individual outside of the council before the council’s extraordinary meeting last week, which was held incommittee.

Cr Highsted stressed he had not disclosed any information following the meeting.

Since last year’s election, he had found the council environment ‘‘highly stressful and the levels of anxiety unsustainable’’.

In the last election, Cr Highsted was the highestpolling candidate for the Gore Ward.

He was in his sixth term on the council and has held numerous senior roles, including audit and risk committee chairman. Chief executive Stephen Parry said Cr Highsted’s contribution would be missed.

‘‘His peers and staff respected him for his agile mind and dedication to his role.’’

Cr Highsted’s resignation would trigger a by-election, Mr Parry said.

Gore Mayor Ben Bell said it was ‘‘an absolute shock’’ to have a councillor resign.

‘‘Cr Highsted has put in an honourable amount of work long-term as a councillor.

‘‘He will be missed around the table.’’

The pair had a ‘‘rocky start’’ to their relationship after October’s election, but Mr Bell thought they had been starting to work better together.

‘‘I felt like we were getting there.’’

The extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, March 28, was to provide councillors with an update from the chief executive’s appraisal committee.

It was called by Mr Bell.

All councillors were present at the meeting, which Cr Hovell chaired.

At the meeting, the council noted the breakdown in the relationship between the mayor and the chief executive and agreed to nominate and appoint an elected member to act as a dedicated intermediary between the mayor and chief executive for governance and relevant operational matters.

The intermediary will be appointed at the next council meeting next month.

That dedicated elected member will provide formal bi-monthly written updates to council and all terms of reference and delegations for the designated elected member will be drafted and presented for consideration and adoption at the April council meeting.

Both Mr Bell and Mr Parry were given the opportunity to address the meeting and answer questions from councillors separately.

The council also resolved to remove the mayor from the chief executive appraisal committee and appoint councillors Keith Hovell, Richard McPhail, John Gardyne and Bronwyn Reid.