Council member calls it quits


Drama continues around the Gore District Council table after the resignation of a popular and long-serving councillor.

Cr Bret Highsted yesterday tendered his resignation, effective immediately.

A council spokeswoman said in statement Cr Highsted had apologised in a letter to deputy mayor Keith Hovell, for commenting to an individual outside the council before the council’s extraordinary meeting last week, which was held in-committee.

Cr Highsted stressed he had not disclosed any information following the meeting.

Since last year’s election, he had found the council environment “highly stressful and the levels of anxiety unsustainable”.

In the last election, Cr Highsted was the highest-polling candidate for the Gore Ward.

He was in his sixth term on the council and had held numerous senior roles, including audit and risk committee chairman.

Chief executive Stephen Parry said Cr Highsted’s contribution would be missed.

“His peers and staff respected him for his agile mind and dedication to his role.”

Cr Highsted’s resignation would trigger a by-election, Mr Parry said.

The extraordinary meeting last Tuesday provided councillors with an update from the chief executive’s appraisal committee.

All councillors were present at the meeting, which Cr Hovell chaired.

Both Gore Mayor Ben Bell and Mr Parry were given the opportunity to address the meeting and answer questions from councillors separately.

The meeting unanimously agreed to appoint a councillor to act as an intermediary between the mayor and chief executive for governance and relevant operational matters.

The council also resolved to remove the mayor from the chief executive appraisal committee and appoint Crs Hovell, Richard McPhail, John Gardyne and Bronwyn Reid.