Protest rally to seek council elections

Plans are being made for a Sunday afternoon protest march to convince the Government to allow midterm elections for the Christchurch City Council.

A new website Cantabrians Unite aims to build on the momentum from the protest outside the Civic Offices a fortnight ago.

The catalyst for the protest was the 14.4 per cent, $68,000, pay rise given to chief executive Tony Marryatt by the council before Christmas. He has since declined the increase and the Government has appointed an observer to watch over the troubled council.

Protest organiser Peter Lynch and Christchurch property commentator Hugh Pavletich have set up the website to push for:

- Midterm council elections.

- Replacing Marryatt as council chief.

- Abolishing a centralised council, and replacing it with a "one city - many communities" model.

- Providing affordable land for housing and business.

The home page requests supporters' names and email addresses, and also asks: "Would you attend a Sunday afternoon protest, if the Government failed to allow a midterm election?"

On Tuesday, Local Government Minister Nick Smith ruled out an early election, saying the city needed "clear governance" at the moment and the process would take too long.

Lynch said that would not shake the protest group's resolve.

"Even with Dr Smith saying there will not be early elections, for the protest movement nothing has changed. We are still hoping to encourage them to change their mind.

"It does depend how the website goes, but there will be a march on a Sunday, I'm sure of that.

"If Dr Smith doesn't listen, it will be on a Sunday afternoon sometime soon in the future. People want it at the weekend," Lynch said.

The target was for 6000 or more to join the "non-partisan" website.

The Press