Rise above pettiness, mayor urges

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2012
Bob Parker
FAIRFAX NZ
UNITY CRY: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is calling for unity among his divided council.

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Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker last night called for unity from his divided council, saying if they couldn't find a way to sort their differences it was likely more councillors might resign by the end of the year.

Parker said he had not spent much time yesterday talking to Cr Sue Wells about her contentious comments.

However, he wanted to look "beyond them" and get Local Government Minister Nick Smith to talk to members at a special meeting on Friday about what the Government expected from the council.

He did not yet know if Smith was available on Friday.

Parker said it was important for Christchurch residents to realise councillors had also had to deal with "much stress in their personal lives" in the aftermath of the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes.

"But they volunteered to do it, and receive the financial benefits of working on behalf of the city.

"Now they have to earn their money and be bigger than the petty nonsense that is dividing us.

"I want everyone to work out how we can put our differences aside and work together and focus on the rebuilding of our city, focus on how to put aside this divisive garbage, this non-stop cycle of criticism through the media of the CEO [Tony Marryatt] or each other or whatever it is.

"If it carries on the way it is now, we will see people walk," Parker said.

"I believe there won't be as many councillors at the end of the year as we have now."

The minister had made it clear he was "happy with the performance of this council", he said.

"He has no intention, absolutely no intention, of putting in commissioners to replace councillors," Parker said.

"He was very supportive of the work that Mr Marryatt has done for the city.

"What he essentially did was make it really clear that the onus of responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the elected members to sort themselves out.

"He wanted all of us to reflect on that on what is essentially our hour of greatest need."

Parker wanted councillors to hear Smith's expectations of them at Friday's informal meeting and planned to ask all councillors "to dedicate ourselves to the reasons why we are here, to put the city first".

Smith said last night he would be "keen" to be at the meeting if it would help the council "resolve its issues".

"The council is obviously having a difficult time and I'm concerned about the tension that exists around the council table at such a critical time in the history of Christchurch."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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