Embattled Gore Mayor Ben Bell has survived a leadership challenge.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council held yesterday, councillors were to discuss several resolutions including one to pass a vote of no confidence in the mayor.

However, no-one moved the resolution.

Instead deputy mayor Keith Hovell moved a resolution the councillors work with Local Government New Zealand to develop amended terms of reference for an independent review to help restore confidence in the council.

All councillors spoke in support of the resolution which was approved.

Last week Cr Hovell and Cr Richard McPhail met with Mr Bell and asked him to resign.

Gore Mayor Ben Bell

After Mr Bell declined, the councillors requested an extraordinary meeting to be held before the council’s scheduled meeting. Crs Stewart MacDonell, Neville Phillips, Glenys Dickson, Joe Stringer, Paul McPhail and Bronwyn Reid also supported the resignation request.

About 200 people gathered outside the council building to show their support for the mayor and the 50 seats inside the meeting chamber were filled.

In a joint statement, the councillors said they reunited following an in-depth, transparent, and honest conversation on Monday.

‘‘We have agreed that we all need to communicate more openly and effectively so there are no further misunderstandings that could lead to an irreparable breakdown in trust.’’

The statement said issues relating to the relationship between the mayor and chief executive would be addressed through mediation and an independent review.


Meanwhile, a petition calling for Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry to resign was proving popular.

Gore resident Sean Burke started the petition and by 4pm yesterday it had more than 4000 signatures.

‘‘The people of Gore are fed up with the circus surrounding our local council and the efforts being made by a select few to oust our newly elected mayor,’’ Mr Burke wrote.

‘‘This appears to be being driven by a select few of the ‘old guard’ on council.’’

He accused Mr Parry of presiding over a culture of bullying.Newsroom reported last week the council had paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance settlements with staff, many with nondisclosure agreements.

Mr Parry said in a statement last week the Gore council was one of the biggest employers in the district and ‘‘any organisation can be subject to claims from former staff’’.

‘‘In some instances these have substance and are dealt with professionally and confidentially by the business, which must always act as a good employer.’’