26 Jan 2012

Mayor calls meeting to try to top infighting

10:42 am on 26 January 2012

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker has called an informal meeting of all councillors and the Local Government Minister in order to attempt to heal the rifts that have developed within the city council.

Earlier this week some councillors publicly called for chief executive Tony Marryatt to be sacked, while others said the council should be sacked and the Government intervene.

Mr Parker says the council needs to sit down and find a way to work through the divisive issues being aired in the media and the minister needs to be there as well.

"I think it's important central Government state their expectations of us.....and, frankly, we need to get the minister in to help us find a solution in the best interests of the city."

Mr Parker says the minister, Nick Smith, supports the idea of the meeting, which will be held on Friday, and will attend.

The mayor says the council is on trial after creating a problem of its own making but he believes it can be fixed.

He says he hopes the meeting will help rebuild the the council's credibility in the eyes of the public.

One councillor, Aaron Keown, says he expects the minister to raise concerns about councillors leaking information when a decision does not go their way.

But another councillor, Yani Johanson, says the real problem to be addressed is councillors not being included in decisions made by the Mayor and the Chief Executive.

Councillor Sue Wells, who has called for a commissioner to replace the council, says there needs to be a change in the behaviour of councillors to save it.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key says it would be a concern if the council's problems held back the rebuilding process after the earthquakes and that is why the Government is taking an interest and why the minister will be at Friday's meeting.

Former Wigram MP and mayoral candidate Jim Anderton says the city council has serious problems but he doesn't believe it should be replaced by commissioners.

He says the regional council has already been disbanded by the Government and it would be a big step to remove the Christchurch City Council as well.

However, Mr Anderton says the council has serious communication problems and if they can't be resolved it should call an early election.