Trust me and Marryatt - Parker

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 14:06 15/08/2012

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Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has asked city councillors to "trust myself and the chief executive" at the start of a secret meeting to discuss the financial fallout from the Government's Port Hills zoning decisions.

Four councillors failed in an attempt to allow the public into the hastily scheduled meeting, with Parker saying they were "free to leave" if they did not feel comfortable taking part.

Details were scant ahead of the meeting, which The Press understands was intended to get councillors to approve a multimillion-dollar cost-share agreement with the Government before Friday's final residential land-zoning decision.

Councillors were not presented with detailed reports before the meeting, while the public agenda said simply that councillors were to discuss "rockfall - legal responsibilities" and "Port Hills".

Parker said he and council chief executive Tony Marryatt had been briefed on the issue by the Government yesterday and wanted to pass on the information to councillors.

However, he did not want any part of the meeting discussed in public because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"This directly impacts on ratepayers and there will be some ratepayers who have the right of being contacted by the minister's department themselves rather than having it broadcast through a public meeting," he said.

Cr Tim Carter questioned the process before the vote, saying councillors had not been given enough information to decide whether the meeting should be open to the public.

"I'm struggling to understand how we can vote [to exclude the public] without any details of what we're going to discuss," he said.

Parker asked councillors to trust him.

"I would suggest that you trust myself and the chief executive,'' he said.

"I am more than happy to accept responsibility, because I believe it is in the best interests of our community for us to deal with it in this way."

Parker invited dissenting councillors to leave the chamber if they did not want to take part as there were enough councillors for the meeting to proceed without them.

"If you find that it is, for reasons best known to you, too difficult for you, you are free to leave," he said.

Carter, Glenn Livingstone, Yani Johanson and Jimmy Chen voted against excluding the public, with nine councillors voting in favour.

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- The Press

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