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Watch NZH Local Focus: Horowhenua council divided

By Sieska Verdonk

Most Mayors get a welcome at their first council meeting.

But the controversial mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen says he's been met only with hostility.

"I had on that first meeting three notices of motion, that were put in, to not open the books, to not relitigate whether we sell the pensioner housing or not and to not relook at the building. Now they were all platforms that I stood on people that people want to be looked at and so they all voted 9-2 in favour and yet three of those councillors as I said at the public meeting so it's nothing new, I wondered how they could vote on such matters when we had never even had council briefings we have never had anything," says Mr Feyen.

The nine councillors who voted against Mayor Feyen say they are adamant they will support him, when his ideas are worth supporting.

"All the issues that he stood for and which we all stood for when you put yourself up to do the best for your district there is going to be lots of commonalities and it's those things that we want to pursue rather than the negatives," says Wayne Bishop, deputy mayor of Horowhenua.

But, it's not an easy working relationship.

In the last two weeks the block of nine councillors led by the deputy mayor placed advertisements in the local paper explaining their position on the council building reports and democracy to ratepayers.

"It's interesting it's challenging but we are motivated to do the best for our district," says Mr Bishop.

Mayor Feyen won 4,585 votes in the election, just under 40 percent of the votes cast for mayoral candidates.

He was just 138 votes ahead nearest rival Brendan Duffy, who was ousted after 12 years in the top job.

The Ratepayers Association has lined up behind the new mayor, claiming the block of nine are like a bunch of schoolyard bullies backing the mayor into a corner.

"I would say some of them are leaders some of them are rednecks actually I would call them thugs, and the others are followers," says Christine Moriarty chair of the Horowhenua Ratepayers Association.

Mayor Feyen says he's not deterred by his detractors, and plans to see out the full term no matter how bumpy the ride.

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- NZ Herald

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