Secrecy on report annoys councillors

Christchurch City Council boss Tony Marryatt
Christchurch City Council boss Tony Marryatt

A long-overdue report into Christchurch City Council boss Tony Marryatt's pay and performance is being withheld from city councillors for now because of fears it will be leaked.

The report has been prepared by the special council subcommittee charged with monitoring the chief executive's performance, and councillors were given the option of considering it in the public-excluded section of Thursday's council meeting.

But they rejected that option because they had not been given a copy of the report ahead of the meeting, as is standard practice, and no chance to consider its recommendations.

Instead a special council meeting will be held, possibly next Thursday, so councillors can consider the report.

Some councillors pressed for it to be released to them on Thursday so they could have time to digest it but were told by Cr Sue Wells, who was acting under instructions from Mayor Bob Parker, the chairman of the subcommittee, that it would not be released until councillors were ready to formally consider it.

That was challenged by Cr Tim Carter, who pointed out that under the rules governing the conduct of local government meetings, reports on agenda items must be released at least two full working days before the scheduled meeting.

"We need to have the report in our hands before we debate it," said Carter.

The reluctance to release the report to councillors stems from an incident in 2011 when details of the $68,000 payrise the council had granted to Marryatt were leaked to the media.

But Cr Yani Johanson said it was unfair to deny some councillors access to the report, when others already had it, based on one incident, which had occurred at a time when there was heightened frustration at the way council processes were being manipulated and some councillors denied access to information.

"Lots of things have been discussed in public-excluded that have not been leaked. It's unfair to let one example tarnish the last three years."

The Press