Accusations of “greed” and warnings against “vote buying” flew thick and fast among Christchurch’s councillors during a fiery debate on whether fees for directorships should be kept or donated to charity.

Councillors on boards of companies owned or run by the city council currently have their pay donated to charities or funds of its choosing.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel was forced to step in after Christchurch City councillor Mike Davidson accused a number of his colleagues of trying to line their own pockets.

Last year $267,000 was shared between the Mayor’s Welfare Fund (MWF), Lego charity Imagination Station and the council’s innovation and sustainability fund.

Whether to continue the policy has divided members. Councillors advised staff in March they wanted to reconsider the position for the coming financial year.

Some backed donating fees, saying directorships only come by virtue of their council roles, others wanted to keep them, given the personal risk they face in such roles, and give them to charities of their own choice.

It only came after seven abstained over a row about whether they have the right to make decisions regarding their own fees, despite a declaration from the Office of the Auditor-General that they were not conflicted.

Councillors accused each other of “pursuing mediocrity”, of greed and warned of opening the door to accusations of buying votes by wanting to donate to charities in their own wards.

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