17 Jan 2012

Mayor warns councillors to stop undermining CEO

8:21 pm on 17 January 2012

The mayor of Christchurch says if the city's councillors continue to undermine its chief executive and each other the Government may be forced to intervene and appoint commissioners.

Bob Parker made the comments after the latest in a series of criticisms about controversial chief executive Tony Marryatt, who was recently awarded a $68,000 salary increase.

The 14.4% pay rise was announced on 18 December, taking his salary from $470,400 to $538,529, effective from 1 July last year.

Mr Marryatt has been strongly criticised for accepting the pay rise as Christchurch tries to rebuild following a series of strong and destructive earthquakes. Last year, councillors voted to not give themselves a pay increase.

On Tuesday, seven councillors released a letter to the media sent to Mr Marryatt asking him to urgently reconsider a decision to relocate the council's after-hours call centre to Palmerston North, saying they had not been consulted.

Mr Parker said he does not want commissioners taking over and running the council's budget. He said councillors need to focus on the job of rebuilding the city and not be distracted by other issues.

The mayor said he is disappointed the letter was made available to media before the council had a chance to discuss it. However, he said there is a clear logic behind the decision to relocate the call centre.

Mr Parker said people need to be able to call the council and get information if there is another significant earthquake. He said it is likely Canterbury would lose power and the call centre needed to be somewhere it could function.

But councillor Yani Johanson believes the work, currently contracted to Orion, should stay in Christchurch as the city tries to retain employment after the quakes.

Mr Johanson said councillors want the decision to be revisited with several options including that a local service be considered.