There are renewed calls for long-time Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt to stand down, after the Department of Internal Affairs raised concerns about the city council’s governance in August.
But Shadbolt is calling the situation a smear campaign that began before the last election.
Outgoing Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle, alongside other Invercargill City Councillors, said the Shadbolt, who was first elected as Invercargill’s mayor in 1993, is no longer up for the job.
Biddle claims she has been carrying out mayoral duties behind the scenes.
“His worship’s a very special man to New Zealand. He is a figurehead and he's put Invercargill on the map. I absolutely understand that,” she said.
“But there is a time and a place where a Mayor needs to focus on his team.”
Rebecca Amundsen, a third-term councillor, agreed.
“A fellow councillor has referred to him as a non-playing captain, and I think that's a fair assessment,” she said.
The mayor declined repeated requests from 1 NEWS for an interview.
“Council has recently commissioned an independent evaluation of it’s governance performance in light of ongoing personality conflicts between Councillors … I am not prepared to undermine this process by a public media brawl which only serves to further a smear campaign," he said in a statement.
The commissioned report is due to be completed next month.
Councillor and incoming Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark said Shadbolt was voted for in a democratic process, and that shouldn’t be undermined.
He said it would be unfair for him to comment until the report is released.
Shadbolt said he will stand again in 2022.
He was also criticised by other councillors last year, when he announced his decision to run again, for appearing confused and struggling to follow what was happening when chairing meetings.
Shadbolt disputed the claims at the time.