31 May 2012

Councillors faulted for not taking collective responsibility

9:26 pm on 31 May 2012

The first report from the Crown observer appointed to oversee Christchurch City Council says it has an obvious lack of understanding of the need to take collective responsibility for its decisions.

In January this year, Kerry Marshall was appointed by the Government to oversee the council after growing public discontent over council decisions.

In his report to the Local Government Minister, Mr Marshall says there has been a lack of respect between some elected members and senior staff, resulting in a breakdown of trust.

He says several councillors damaged public confidence in the council by re-litigating decisions in public and releasing confidential documents.

Mr Marshall says there was an obvious lack of understanding around the principle of collective responsibility and the need to work together.

However, he says he is encouraged by the genuine commitment from the council to address these issues.

But Councillor Glenn Livingstone says he does not agree with the findings in the first report from a Crown observer sent in to keep an eye on the council.

Mr Livingstone says councillors have to be able to speak out on issues, such as the publicly unpopular $68,000 pay rise to council's chief executive Tony Maryatt.

"I represent not only a geographical but, in my view, a social constituency for whom a pay rise of that magnitude was easily a bridge too far.

"So if I'm expected to not say anything on the grounds that it's collective responsibility, I think what am I doing there."

Mr Livingstone thinks councillors can speak out on issues as long as they do so in a respectful way.