Councillors plan to sack colleague

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The five Nelson City councillors who are gunning for Eric Davy to be removed as chair of the regional transport committee are standing by the move and say it’s a matter of principal.

As revealed in last week’s Nelson Weekly, Luke Acland, Matt Lawrey, Pete Rainey, Mike Ward and Brian McGurk all signed a Notice of Motion to have Eric Davy removed from the role after an “abuse of process”.

The Notice of Motion will be voted on at this Thursday’s full council meeting.

The five councillors say they were repeatedly told that the council, or anyone from council, was not involved in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s first stage investigation into the need for a southern arterial road.

But earlier this month when the findings of the first stage were released, it revealed that mayor Rachel Reese and Eric Davy were, in fact, members of the NZTA focus group.

Last week, Rachel told Nelson Weekly that she and Eric were not representing the council views but were consulted because of their vast knowledge of local roads “and that is entirely appropriate”.

She said the Notice of Motion was akin to a “political tantrum”.

But the NZTA report indicates that Rachel and Eric were on the focus group representing Nelson City Council.

It read: “Nelson City Council (NCC), represented by mayor and regional transport committee member, Rachel Reese and works and infrastructure committee chair and regional transport committee chair, Eric Davy.”

Luke, who initiated the Notice of Motion, says Eric repeatedly told fellow councillors that neither he, nor anyone else from council, was having anything to do with the NZTA investigation.

According to the received, yet unconfirmed, minutes of the Regional Transport Committee meeting of October 16, Eric said: “The committee had not been involved in any discussions or provided any input into the New Zealand Transport Agency regarding the Nelson Southern Link.”

All five councillors who signed the Notice of Motion say they stand by that decision, despite its outcome of removing a colleague from his position.

Luke says he has some sympathy for Eric but he still believes that he deserves to be removed from his role.

“I’m sure Eric was doing it, thinking he was doing the right thing. But process requires that the ends must justify the means so you can’t say ‘I’m not involved’ in the process while you are.”

Luke says the mayor’s reasoning that she and Eric weren’t acting on behalf of council doesn’t hold weight.

“The mayor was invited because she is the mayor of the city and the chair of the RTC was invited because that person is the chair of the RTC. I’ve spoken to NZTA and they were invited for that reason because they are the two most appropriate roles for people to be included for roading projects, representing NCC.”

He says the Notice of Motion is directed at Eric and not Rachel, because he was the one who told them that he wasn’t involved in the process.

Eric declined to comment to the Weekly ahead of the vote.

Rachel says she has not seen any evidence that points to Eric outright saying he wasn’t involved in the process and admitted she would be upset if he had.

She says his comments from the regional transport committee minutes were referring to the committee itself.

“I don’t have any information that says that Eric has said to another councillor that [he’s] not involved in the strategic case. I don’t have anything like that. Now they [councillors] might have had that conversation but I have no information to support that allegation.

“If that is what has happened then absolutely I will share their [the councillors] concern and would have asked serious questions of Eric.”

For an update on the vote on Thursday, visit nelsonlive.co.nz