Culture council's real problem - PR man

21:05, Feb 20 2012

Criticism of the Christchurch City Council is due to a "basic culture deficiency" within the organisation rather than communication problems, a council committee has been told.

The council's communications committee met yesterday to discuss the draft terms of reference for an $80,000 review of the organisation's communication problems.

Council chief executive Tony Marryatt commissioned the review after increasing criticism of the council's performance.

Court Theatre Trust chairwoman and communications consultant Felicity Price was chosen to do the review. Her report is due on June 30.

In a submission to the committee, public relations consultant David Lynch said the council's problems were due to the culture within the organisation, rather than poor communication.

"No amount of good communication or examination of channels will change the fundamental problem."

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The review could be seen as "shifting the onus from the shoulders of the CEO, mayor and councillors onto the communications team", Lynch said.

The council needed to address its "basic culture deficiency" before it audited its communications, he said.

Committee member Cr Jamie Gough told The Press he was concerned that the review would be too narrow, and needed to include wider concerns about the council's performance.

The council needed to ensure that its communication was a "two-way street", rather than a one-way process, Gough said.

"Telling people information is one thing, but for us to get better, we have got to get better information and bring people as close to the process as possible."

The review also needed to address problems with internal communication, he said.

"We need to make sure the left hand is talking to the right hand."

Councillors also discussed legal advice on the implications of terminating the review behind closed doors.

Committee chairman Cr Yani Johanson told The Press the committee had a "good discussion" about the review.

It had recommended broadening the scope to determine whether criticism of the council was due to communication issues or its actions.

Johanson said the recommendations would be discussed by the full council in March. The committee also resolved to meet regularly to discuss the review and communication issues at the council.

The Press