Burke backs Anderton

Veteran politician Sir Kerry Burke has backed former colleague Jim Anderton for the Christchurch mayoralty, but also wants a seat around the council table for himself.

The former Environment Canterbury (ECan) chairman yesterday ruled out a tilt at the mayoralty, but said he would run as an independent candidate in the Spreydon-Heathcote ward.

He endorsed Anderton for the top job, saying the council's present style needed changing.

Anderton said Burke's move not to run for mayor was "a unifying decision in the interests of constructive change in the direction of the city council".

Anderton and Burke worked together for five years in the Labour government in the 1980s.

In a statement, Burke said Anderton would be an excellent mayor.

"He will bring great and distinguished experience of government, as well as a full understanding of both business principles and social justice."

Those qualities seemed to be absent in the council's leadership and in its decisions.

The council had "lost its compass", he said.

Anderton needed strong support as mayor to change the council's culture and direction.

Burke said he wanted to play his part.

"Change is needed across Christchurch to restore the council's connection with its community, and its former reputation as a world leader in local government."

Burke said he had represented the Spreydon-Heathcote community and worked closely with it as a regional councillor for nearly 12 years.

He wanted greater control over city council spending, limits on urban sprawl and public transport improvements.

"City council spending policy has an irrational look to it, with the `Save Dave' bailout, the flower show cost secrecy, the bus exchange design change and cost blowout and the sorry Arts Centre fiasco," he said.

"Change at the council table is needed for the silliness to stop."

Mayor Bob Parker said he had a different view and noted ECan, under Burke's leadership, was the local authority that required Government intervention and not the city council, which ran well.

The Press