Marryatt must go - Carter

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2012
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Carter
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BETTER LEADERSHIP: Christchurch city councillor Tim Carter is calling for council chief executive Tony Marryatt to be sacked.
Bob Parker
FAIRFAX NZ
MORE THAN DISAPPOINTED: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says he is more than disappointed at the "very destructive game" he believes councillor Tim Carter is playing.
Tony Marryatt
FAIRFAX NZ
GRIEVANCE: Christchurch City Council boss Tony Marryatt took ratepayer-funded legal action against city councillors.

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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.

"Our city, now more than ever, needs an institution that is publicly serving rather than one that serves itself its people."

He said there were many excellent people at the council but they were being badly led by Parker and Marryatt.

"These staff and the ratepayers of Christchurch deserve better leadership."

He said the council's governance processes were flawed and Marryatt and Parker excluded councillors, restricted information and made decisions behind closed doors away from public scrutiny and accountability.

Carter cited last week's decision by Marryatt and Parker to spend $80,000 on a communications review, without councillors' knowledge and without a competitive tender process, as an example of the decisions being made without scrutiny.

"The chief executive acts politically as the 14th councillor, favouring some elected members rather than being accountable to all," he said.

Carter encouraged people to "turn up in large numbers" and be "vocal" at a protest organised for February 1 against Marryatt's $68,000 pay rise.

A council spokesman said Marryatt did not want to comment and referred all matters regarding his employment to Parker.

Parker said it was an understatement to say he was disappointed at Carter's actions.

"This is a very destructive game he is playing. It's very destructive for his fellow councillors who are under a lot of pressure. It's been an enormously challenging year for councillors."

A majority of councillors voted last year to award Marryatt a contract until the end of 2014, and at the time Carter made it clear he was against that happening, Parker said.

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"He did not win his arguments at the table and the majority of the council appointed him [Marryatt] for a further 2 1/2years. He [Carter] needs to accept that is the nature of democracy."

Parker said Carter's attacks on Marryatt were not only undermining his fellow councillors but also undermining council staff.

He said he could not imagine how galling it must be for Marryatt to be the subject of this attack after investing most of his life in local government.

A review by councillors and staff on Marryatt's performance had produced the best marks he had seen in 20 years of being involved in local government, Parker said.

"He [Marryatt] is doing a great job," he said.

Cr Yani Johanson said he understood the frustration being expressed by Carter and the public, and he supported the urgent need for improvement and change.

However, he believed councillors should deal with the issue first and the Government should intervene as a last resort.

Johanson called for a special council meeting this week so councillors could deal with concerns about Marryatt's performance.

When councillors and heads of committees were being excluded from important discussions, it undermined the role of elected representatives, Johanson said.

Johanson chairs the council's communications committee and he was informed of the review only 20 minutes before a statement was sent to the media late on Friday afternoon.

Cr Jamie Gough said Carter's call was particularly interesting given the council had gone through a democratic process to appoint the best person for the job only a matter of months ago.

The council needed to work collectively to find solutions. He did not see how working divisively was going to be of any benefit.

Cr Sue Wells said Carter's call showed a lack of understanding between the division of governance and management.

She said she thought it was "bizarre" for a councillor to be calling for a member of the management team to be replaced.

- The Press

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