Marryatt has 'ultimate responsibility'

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 14/09/2013
Tony Marryatt
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

MORE THAN RIDICULOUS: Mike Yardley asks why the exit package for Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt, pictured, is so generous when the man resigned from the position.

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Former Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt will continue to earn $10,325 every week for the next three months, and then an extra $270,000 on his last day in the job.

Marryatt, the highest-paid local government boss in the country with a $538,529 salary package, yesterday resigned after six years in the top job, having negotiated a deal that will give him $2071 for each working day.

He has been on that full pay rate since being placed on leave on July 3 and will stay on it until he departs on November 30.

On that date, he will be paid out $269,264 - the equivalent of six months' pay.

Between now and then, he will not be required to perform the chief executive role, but a joint statement from the council and Marryatt said he would "be available as required to assist with handover matters and in the transition to a new council and chief executive".

It is unlikely he will be seen at the council offices again as he will work remotely over the next 11 weeks.

Marryatt could not be located yesterday.

A visit to his Ilam property revealed it was virtually empty of furniture and on the market.

The five-bedroom, two-storey house sits on a 786-square-metre section and has a 2007 rateable value of $1.05 million. It is to be auctioned later this month.

Mayor Bob Parker declined to comment on Marryatt's resignation and councillors were also refusing to publicly comment, although some were yesterday angry that the voting record on who backed and opposed the deal was not made public.

Some will push for that record to be released next week.

Council staff were told about Marryatt's resignation before a joint public statement was issued.

Lianne Dalziel, the woman likely to be voted the city's new mayor next month, said it was the "right thing to do."

"I'm pleased that the matter has been resolved by this council and I do believe it was their responsibility to get it sorted before the new council came in," she said.

Marryatt's resignation came on the same day a damning report into the council's consenting crisis largely pointed the finger at him.

It said the consenting crisis had

been years in the making and was part of more "deep-seated cultural and performance issues" that were allowed to happen under his watch.

While the report only partly blamed Marryatt for the crisis, it said he should take "ultimate responsibility" for the council's issues.

It is the second major report in the last 18 months to savage the way the council communicates internally, and said the council should "seriously consider" the way information and communications works within the organisation.

Investigator Peter Winder said there was "no single action or inaction" that made the council lose accreditation.

"Rather, there are a number of long-standing and more systemic failures that together resulted in the loss of accreditation."

A series of miscommunications and misunderstandings, coupled with managers and others not realising the seriousness of the situation, all played a part in the crisis.

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Large chunks of the 56-page report were blacked out to protect the privacy of council staff interviewed, but the language is strong and highly critical in parts.

But it also said earthquake issues meant the council was under "significant pressure" to respond to the needs of the community and to help in New Zealand's largest rebuild.

Marryatt partially accepted fault in yesterday's statement, saying he accepted, despite "the presence of mitigating factors" in the report, that the final responsibility for the loss of accreditation must rest with him.

"Taking this into account and with local government elections due in October, Mr Marryatt feels this would be a suitable time to resign. The parties see this as enabling the new council to appoint a new chief executive to work with them in continuing the rebuild of Christchurch."

Marryatt thanked council staff for their ongoing support, work ethic and focus on "making a difference during extremely stressful and trying times". He was proud of what the council had achieved for the city in "extremely trying times".

Parker said the report "paints a very clear picture of what has happened within the organisation".

He declined to comment further.

- Fairfax Media

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