No allegiance to Mayor - reviewer

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2012
Price
FAIRFAX NZ
I'M INDEPENDENT: The woman charged with getting to the bottom of Christchurch City Council's communication problems, Felicity Price, says she is independent.

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Felicity Price, the woman charged with getting to the bottom of Christchurch City Council's communication problems, has hit back at people questioning her independence.

Price was appointed by council chief executive Tony Marryatt to conduct a communication audit and review at a cost of $80,000.

Marryatt and Mayor Bob Parker said the review would involve discussion with up to 120 people within the council and the community as well as analysis of the council's communication materials. It was also likely to involve a public survey of ratepayers.

City councillor Tim Carter has criticised the appointment saying it should have been awarded through a competitive open tender process, not to a person "well-known" to Parker and Marryatt.

The Press has received about 20 letters on the review, which were all critical. Almost 100, mostly negative comments, have also been made on press.co.nz.

However, Price said yesterday she was independent and the communications company, Carter Price Rennie, which she created with her husband Chris Rennie, had never worked for the city council.

She said she had met Marryatt only once before last week and that was as chairwoman of the Court Theatre Trust to advise him of the theatre's rebuilding plans.

"I've only met Bob Parker on formal occasions, at functions," she said.

Price ceased to be a shareholder and director of the company last year and remained an employee until she resigned on January 19.

She said Carter Price Rennie and other communication companies worked for Civil Defence immediately after the February 22 quake, but that was not for the city council and she was not involved in that.

Price said she agreed to do the review because "it seemed like the right thing to do".

"I have lived in Christchurch all my life. I love this city and I'm really upset about what has been going on."

She said the recent criticism of the council had been diverting energy away from the city's recovery.

"There's nothing I want more than to see the city get on with its recovery and rebuild."

Price said she was qualified to carry out the audit and review after leading reviews for the city's three tertiary institutions, one other local authority in Canterbury, and a range of commercial enterprises.

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- The Press

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