Both Gore's mayor and council CEO refuse to step down despite strained relationship

New Zealand's youngest-ever mayor is refusing to step aside, despite a tumultuous opening six months into his term.

Gore Mayor Ben Bell and council CEO Stephen Parry are at loggerheads - with an independent mediator brought in to repair a relationship that threatens confidence in the local body. 

Gore's top two council figures were filmed side by side - but that's about as close as their relationship gets.

"We may not be super friendly but we can still do our roles," Bell said.

"It's very strained and I think that's a suitable encapsulation," Parry said.

The Council boss claims their relationship broke down when phone calls went unanswered after 23-year-old Ben Bell was elected in October. He said his advice is being ignored and misrepresentations about him are being made publicly.

"There have been some trust issues that have arisen along the way as well," Parry said.

The Mayor was not willing to reveal as much.

"I can't particularly comment on it as it's an employment matter," Bell said.

The fractured relationship saw Bell recently removed from the CEO's Appraisal Committee - or so it seemed.

"Um.. can't actually do that," Bell said. "By virtue of the Act, Councillor, I am still on the committee."

"That point was traversed with Council's lawyer verbally and confirmed the Mayor can be removed from a committee," Parry said.

Answers were harder to come by when travel to this year's Local Government Conference was raised.

Silence filled the divide within the council when Bell asked for a volunteer to attend the conference with him.

Nominations for a by-election opened on Wednesday following the shock resignation of six-term councillor Bret Highsted earlier this month.

"This has been the toughest six months of my local government career," Parry said.

But neither man is stepping down.

"No, I'm here I have a term of employment and my intention is to serve out that term," Parry said.

"Um, I have no thoughts about resigning at this point and time. It's ultimately up to the community. If I had an outpour from the community asking for my resignation, sure," Bell said.

The first step to restoring confidence in leadership here was voting for an independent review, which was one thing Gore's council was united on.