CODC mayor closes case on Cromwell's bullying claims

by Kim Bowden - Apr 30, 2024

As an afterthought in a live broadcast on Facebook Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan has said he has found no evidence to support claims of bullying within his council and considers this to be the end of the matter.

However, the woman who made the allegations, Cromwell Community Board chair Anna Harrison, is standing by them.

Although Mrs Harrison was not named by the mayor during his Facebook address, she says "it seems clear that his reference is to what I said at the council meeting during the debate on community board delegations". 

"Mayor Tim has spoken to me and I have clarified for him who made the allegations, who they were about and what the context was. I know that he has spoken with all parties and is understandably keen to put this behind him and the council."

Mrs Harrison says the mayor informed her of his intention to speak to the issue during his regular Facebook live session.

While she is now also happy to leave the matter to rest, she is hopeful her message to the council's elected members was taken on board.

"I stand by what I said and I sincerely hope that the conversations had between the mayor and councillors has given pause for thought about the way councillors interact with one another. 

"I think the matter is now closed."

At the February meeting of the Central Otago District Council elected members voted not to change decision making powers delegated to the district's four community boards after heated debate and impassioned speeches from a full public gallery.

The Cromwell Community Board had publicly stated its strong view that the historical delegations remain, and Mrs Harrison was invited to speak to the council during February's meeting.

She spoke of feeling "shocked and disheartened" by what she called "inflammatory", "bullying", "angry" and "dismissive" behaviour by some around the decision making table in the weeks proceeding the meeting that left her with concerns about "predetermination" in regards to the vote.

Addressing his Facebook audience last week, Mayor Cadogan said the allegations were "very serious".

"I've talked to my councillors. I've asked if anyone has felt bullied or is being bullied, in any way or shape.

"I have been told, 'No, that is not the case', by every single councillor. I've also emailed councillors and said, 'Hey, you know, if it's me, then could you please talk to these other people?', because, you know, if I've asked you if it's bullying and it's me you're probably going to say no - that hasn't resulted in anything."

"The other thing that I've put out is, 'Hey, if you are being bullied and you don't want to talk to anybody at council about it, here's places to go'."

He said the allegations centred on bullying between councillors, but that the allegations were not made by a councillor and that made it "slightly more difficult".

"So, for me, that's really the end of it. I'm not really sure what else I can do."

During the Facebook session, which lasted for approximately one-and-a-half minutes, the mayor did not address Mrs Harrison's concerns regarding predetermination by councillors heading into February's meeting.

He had started to round off the live session and farewell his audience, before appearing to remember that he had wanted to address the bullying claims.

Mayor Cadogan refuses to answer questions from Crux, and has said this will remain the case as long as he holds the office of mayor.

Main image (File photo from 2019): The mayor of Central Otago, Tim Cadogan.

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