Brownlee may intervene at Christchurch council

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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More government intervention could be on the cards for the Christchurch City Council.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will meet councillors in private this morning to discuss whether they should proceed with preparing a long-term plan (LTP) as required under the Local Government Act.

The plan is a crucial document because it sets out the council's work agenda and finances for the next 10 years. Brownlee, who has in the past raised concerns about the council's ability to meet its share of the city's rebuild costs, said yesterday that he had invited councillors to meet him because he wanted to discuss whether it was an appropriate time for them to be preparing a plan.

"They have some requirements they have to meet under the Local Government Act that are coming up," he said. "I think we have to look at whether the Local Government Act is a document that is sufficient when no council in New Zealand has faced the sort of issues the Christchurch City Council is dealing with at the moment."

Asked whether that meant the council could be removed of its obligation to prepare an LTP, Brownlee said: "I am having a discussion with the councillors [today] about that particular matter and I'm not going to conduct that discussion on the front page of The Press, or the inside pages for that matter."

Brownlee said he was holding the meeting in private because he wanted to have a frank exchange of views.

"I make no apology for that. It's totally appropriate for elected people to fully understand each other's positions on these incredibly challenging issues," he said.

"No-one wants the pace of the recovery to slow or there to be any impediment to recovery."

Mayor Bob Parker said today's meeting had been called by Brownlee at late notice.

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