Council voting misused - Button
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button has accused some councillors of "grandstanding", as the number of symbolic votes being brought to the Christchurch City Council table grows.
The council has passed an array of notices of motion this term, such as asking for an "immediate pause" in the demolition of the Christ Church Cathedral and calling for a one-month moratorium on the demolition of Cranmer Courts. Despite their intent, the moves were ineffective as the council had no power to intervene.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said notices of motion should be "a last resort, or an emergency thing when you haven't got time to go through the proper processes".
Their growing use this term was a concern, she said, as the process was being abused by councillors who simply wanted to make their opinion known.
"To be honest, generally, I think there's a lot of grandstanding happening . . . it's a bit of a publicity thing."
The debates that arose over the votes also slowed down council meetings, she said. "They do tend to be on emotive issues, and once the lid's off Pandora's box, everyone wants to have a say on it, so it does take up a lot of time."
Mayor Bob Parker said the overuse of notices of motion was becoming "an absolute drain on resources".
"It can sometimes be a worthwhile tool, but it is now becoming increasingly disruptive to the flow of work that we have in front of us."
Parker said notices of motion were often symbolic and did not lead to any significant changes.
"If we have a big debate, send a letter off and it has no real impact, it may make a political impact but what's the point?"
Cr Glenn Livingstone, who has put forward notices of motion, said councillors had a responsibility to raise concerns and ensure they were dealt with quickly. "You take each case on its merits but the urgency of the situation does merit it sometimes.
"The earthquake legislation is so strong, and so fast-moving, that we also have to move quickly so we don't get caught out."
Some notices of motion put forward by Christchurch City councillors this term:
April 2012: Declaring Christchurch a fracking-free zone.
May 2012: Asking for an "immediate pause" in the demolition of the Christ Church Cathedral to allow "deeper and more open consideration" of restoration options.
September 2012: Writing to Local Government Minister David Carter expressing their desire for an urgent return to ECan elections.
October 2012: Calling for a one-month moratorium on the demolition of Cranmer Courts.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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