Labour backs plan to restore confidence in Chch council

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Christchurch’s Labour MPs are backing calls for the Christchurch City Council to resolve its internal difficulties for the sake of the city they were elected to represent, says Labour’s Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Lianne Dalziel.Lianne Dalziel
Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson

25 January 2012

Labour backs plan to restore confidence in Christchurch council

Christchurch’s Labour MPs are backing calls for the Christchurch City Council to resolve its internal difficulties for the sake of the city they were elected to represent, says Labour’s Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Lianne Dalziel.

“Christchurch people want transparency and accountability from the council,” Lianne Dalziel said. “Open processes are critical. Cr Yani Johanson’s 10-point plan (attached), proposed when Cr Chrissie Williams resigned last year, should have been implemented at the time. The plan looks like a sensible path forward.

“It is vital that this is resolved without government intervention, as people need to have confidence that the council is leading the recovery effort,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“Any suggestions that the council be replaced by commissioners would be strongly resisted. There is already a democratic deficit in our regional council, and such a move at city level would be disastrous and hold back our recovery even further.

“That is not to say that change is not required,” Lianne Dalziel said. “Councillors need to be fully engaged in the governance of the city and it is vital that there are much more open processes. Labour believes they need to re-think the way they operate and interact with the communities they serve.”

Lianne Dalziel said that there were also issues with the Chief Executive, who she believes needs to be told that this is not ‘business as usual’.

“Tony Marryatt needs to remember that he is not a Chief Executive Officer of a corporation – he is a Chief Executive of the Christchurch City Council. He needs to lead the organisation by example. He shouldn’t have to be told by the Mayor that he needs to be ‘out and about’ in the community – that’s a core element of his job.

“He needs to be providing councillors with quality advice on the recovery process and ensuring they are all able to contribute as democratically elected members, without any fear or favour.

“It is true that the council’s communications need to be improved, but a significant part of the problem stems from the poor relationships he has with the wider community, especially the business community.

“Christchurch’s recovery depends on confidence in the council being restored, which is why Cr Johanson’s proposals need to be implemented as an important first step,” Lianne Dalziel said.

The 10-point plan (as drawn up in September last year):

1. Establish an earthquake committee, which would meet weekly to discuss, liaise and focus on the earthquake recovery and response.
2. Restart existing council committees by October 29.
3. Hold weekly public seminars on “matters of significance”, to be decided by the committee heads.
4. Set up a councillors’ office administration within the council to provide support and assistance to individual councillors.
5. Provide councillors with fortnightly updates on insurance negotiations, with final
6. Provide councillors with fortnightly updates on community facilities, to be made public and published online.
7. Develop and establish governance-level relationships with the Government, CERA, Christchurch MPs and Environment Canterbury.
8. Develop an internal quake- recovery scheme for the council by the end of the year.
9. Expand the chief executive subcommittee to include the entire council, develop a performance agreement and charter for the chief executive by the end of October, and meet every two months to monitor key performance targets.
10. Hold quarterly meetings with key stakeholders, including business representatives, key community groups and the media. The chief executive would be encouraged to attend.

ENDS

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