Christchurch City Council exit count grows

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 07/09/2013
Bob Parker, Tony Marryatt meeting
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
CLOSED MEETING: Mayor Bob Parker prepares to exclude the public from an extraordinary council meeting yesterday that received an update on the employment of its chief executive, Tony Marryatt.
Gary Graham
David Hallett/ The Press
LONE PROTEST: Gary Graham made his point when he stood solo outside the Christchurch City Council offices.

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Tony Marryatt is on the verge of joining a high-profile list of politicians and councillors to leave the crisis-plagued Christchurch City Council.

The future employment of New Zealand's highest paid local government chief executive is on a knife-edge with an announcement expected early next week.

Councillors met privately yesterday where it was expected Marryatt's fate would have been sealed but word may not come until next week.

But the fate of other staff and elected officials has slowly started emerging.

Its top finance boss, Paul Anderson, left in July to head NZSki but was blamed by some for his part in the council's insurance woes.

The Press understands the consenting crisis could claim at least one other senior scalp.

The highest profile political casualty so far is Mayor Bob Parker. Five sitting councillors - Sue Wells, Barry Corbett, Tim Carter, Sally Buck and Peter Beck - have, for various reasons, decided to leave.

Pressure is also building on several others wanting a further three-year term, with Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button, Helen Broughton and Claudia Reid facing fierce competition in their respective wards.

It means the council will start its new term with a new mayor, at least five new councillors and with its first order of business being to find at least one senior manager and possibly a chief executive.

The city's two leading mayoral contenders have welcomed the situation, saying fresh faces and a new culture are critical.

Lianne Dalziel said there was no question that the city wanted change at the council.

If elected, she wanted to immediately start mending relationships between the council and groups like Environment Canterbury , the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authorityand the Government.

She would call a meeting between all those groups before Christmas.

Changes at the council meant the city was being "offered a fresh start".

Paul Lonsdale said most council operations should be straightforward but seemed to have become complicated, which had led to an "incompetent council".

Apart from supporting Marryatt, the council had allowed some "crazy" decisions to pass and let key issues like consenting and insurance become serious issues.

"The insurance issue is like the white elephant. We all know it's there, we just don't know how big it is yet."

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Lonsdale predicted that the new council would unearth other serious issues, but believed a new-look body would also make fast progress.

Losing experienced councillors was not a negative. "It's probably best if we don't have that kind of experience again. People all want to see major change. It is time to move forward.

"Yes, there will be issues for the new council but nothing like we've had to put up with in the last couple of council terms."

COUNCIL PURGE

Going: Bob Parker, Sue Wells, Barry Corbett, Sally Buck, Tim Carter.

Going?: Tony Marryatt

Gone: Paul Anderson

Uncertain: Ngaire Button, Helen Broughton, Claudia Reid, Aaron Keown.

- The Press

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