A Clutha District councillor was challenged on his attendance and effectiveness during an at-times heated meeting on Friday.
The Clutha Residents and Ratepayers Association (CRRA) held its annual meeting on Friday afternoon during which Balclutha ward councillor Kevin Barron, who is also a member of the CRRA, spoke about his first six months as a councillor.
About 30 people attended the meeting including several councillors and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan.
Cr Barron spoke on his involvement as a councillor so far, commitments outside of council meetings and objectives of the CRRA.
During Cr Barron’s presentation, concerned ratepayer Brodie Dodds approached him to confirm his reasons for what she said was only a 59% attendance rate for council meetings and workshops since February.
This was in stark contrast to every other councillor having more than 81% attendance, Ms Dodds said.
She suggested Cr Barron had a ‘‘conflict of interest’’ being elected as a representative of the CRRA through council as ‘‘it’s like the defence lawyer is also the prosecutor, or going for National when you’re actually supporting Labour as well’’.
‘‘Part of being on council means you’ve got to be unbiased.
‘‘I’m expressing concern that you have not attended all council meetings this year, particularly the annual plan meetings.
‘‘I find it hard to trust what you’re saying, and I think if you’re the representative for the CRRA then you need to make sure you’re actually there doing the job.’’
Cr Barron was not ‘‘doing his job’’ and he should not have gone to the AGM to guest speak when he ‘‘was not actually turning up [to council]’’.
Cr Barron responded calmly to Ms Dodd’s criticisms.
‘‘You know why I didn’t turn up? You’ve made a decision without getting the facts?,’’ he said.
Ms Dodds rejoined, ‘‘no apology put in’’.
‘‘Five meetings missed in a row and in total nine meetings out of 22 that you’ve missed.’’
Cr Barron continued, ‘‘as I stated, I have a business in Christchurch with seven employees that turns over $10 million a year’’.
‘‘I have four development properties up there that I’m still looking after; I’m building a house; I attend Anzac Day in New Caledonia every year; had a medical reason to go to Christchurch to get a lump cut out of my leg; and when I came back to Balclutha I bought a commercial property to open a business.
‘‘I thought putting a retail shop into the town was more important than attending a meeting, especially when there are 13 other councillors that attend the meeting.
‘‘I didn’t think that my not being there was going to be such a loss.’’
Ms Dodds urged Cr Barron to resign from either CRRA or the council.
‘‘Pick one or the other to do because there’s a direct conflict of interest.’’
Members in the room reacted heatedly to Ms Dodds’ interjections, saying she was ‘‘out of line’’.
One CRRA member said her comments were ‘‘scathing and unfair’’.
Cr Barron said the goal of the association was to work to help improve council communication for two or three years, then disband.