Some or all must go

It is becoming obvious that some or all of the Christchurch City Councillors must go. Two Councillors have called for the CEO to be sacked, and another has called for the Council to be sacked and replaced with a Commissioner.

First let’s look at those calling for the CEO to be sacked. Tim Carter said:

Outspoken Christchurch City councillor Tim Carter wants council boss Tony Marryatt sacked, prompting Mayor Bob Parker to accuse Carter of playing “a destructive game”.

Carter slammed Marryatt yesterday for acting “as the 14th councillor” at the council table and asked the Government to replace him with a commissioner.

In a statement to The Press, Carter said it was time for the Government to appoint a commissioner willing to engage with the full council and residents in an open and transparent manner.

And today:

Cr Glenn Livingstone agreed there had been a “loss of confidence” in the council by the public, but he disagreed with Wells’ views that the council should be disbanded.

He said he would support moves to sack chief executive Tony Marryatt if it was necessary for the council’s survival.

The thing which is clear to me is that Cr Carter and arguably Cr Livingstone should resign immediately. It is untenable to have a Councillor campaigning for the CEO to be sacked. It is impossible for the CEO to do his job, under such an environment.

The reality is that the majority of the Council voted to re-appoint Tony Marryatt as CEO. The Councillors against that had every right to vote against, and try and persuade their colleagues. But once they lost that argument, and the majority voted to re-appoint him, they have a duty to either accept the majority’s decision, or if they are unable to, resign from the Council in protest.

I am not an advocate of the view that on every issue, the minority on a Council must accept the view of the majority if it goes against them. It is quite legitimate to (for example) continue to fight against say an alcohol ban policy, if you as a Councillor thought it was a bad policy and a bad decision.

But when it comes to employment matters, you just can not have Councillors calling for the CEO, who is employed by the Council, to be sacked.

So at a minimum, those Councillors who are publicly advocating for the CEO to be sacked should resign off Council. Their position is untenable, and they are making the Council ungovernable and unmanageable.

One Councillor, Sue Wells, has called for the entire Council to be sacked and replaced with a Commissioner – whom the CEO would report to. This is an extreme step and I don’t think things have got that bad. But there would be one significant advantage of it, if this did happen.

Around 80% of the Council’s powers and functions are reputed to now lie with CERA. Also we have the Regional Council of ECan. And a huge amount of time and energy goes into sorting out disagreements between the three organisations. If the Council was replaced with a Commissioner, then you could (as Cr Wells suggested) combine ECan, CCC and CERA into one organisation for the next couple of years.

As I said, I don’t think a Commissioner is yet warranted, but the status quo is not sustainable either. At a minimum Cr Carter should go.

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