Parry resignation not surprising, Hicks says

Understandable . . . Gore District chief executive Stephen Parry has resigned after 22 years in the role. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The man who worked alongside the Gore District Council’s departing chief executive for more than 15 years says he is not surprised to hear of his resignation.
Former Gore district mayor Tracy Hicks said the departure of Stephen Parry was understandable given the ‘‘nonsense that has gone on recently’’.
‘‘Why would you put yourself through it, to be honest?’’ Mr Hicks said.
In March councillors became aware of a breakdown in the relationship between Gore District Mayor Ben Bell and Mr Parry, which came to a head before Christmas.
Cr Richard McPhail was appointed as an intermediary between the two.
In June, a petition asking for Mr Parry’s resignation, supposedly signed by more than 4800 people, was dismissed by councillors.
Later that month, Mr Bell and councillors apologised to Mr Parry and expressed their ‘‘unreserved confidence’’ in him.
Mr Hicks, who served six mayoral terms in Gore, said he had always rated Mr Parry very highly.
‘‘I know there are some people in the community who don’t but very few of them have had much to do with him.
‘‘That disappoints me when they express those sort of opinions without knowing somebody first hand.’’
Mr Parry, who is believed to be in his early 60s, is one of the longest-serving chief executives in the country and has been in the role for 22 years.
He will finish on October 31.
In a statement on behalf of the mayor and councillors, Cr McPhail said the council was grateful to Mr Parry for his contribution.
‘‘He has been a champion for Gore and its ratepayers and a senior figure on Southland’s local government landscape.
‘‘Steve has a wealth of knowledge and is well respected in local government circles.’’
He left an experienced senior management team and staff, which would be of great assistance for the future, Cr McPhail said.
In an email to staff on Monday , Mr Parry expressed his pride in serving as chief executive and the culture that had been forged at the council.
‘‘I leave with no regrets and a fair degree of excitement about what lies ahead.’’
Mr Parry said he planned to take time to reflect and set his priorities and challenges for next year.
He was looking forward to spending more time with his family.
Mr Bell said the council wished Mr Parry ‘‘all the best for the next chapter in his professional career’’ and declined further comment.
In a statement, Mr Bell said the council was hopeful Mr Parry would assist with the transition to a new chief executive. Recruitment for a chief executive would begin immediately.
‘‘The process will take about six months, which means we will be looking to appoint an interim chief executive in due course.’’