'Leakers to blame' for city's woes

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2012
Button
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ
STANDING BY: Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button says the council needs to expose the "leakers" and then it can start to heal.

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Expose the "leakers" and the Christchurch City Council will start to heal, Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button says.

Button does not support Cr Sue Wells' calls for the council to be disbanded and replaced by commissioners.

Instead, she yesterday raised the spectre of the sale of city assets such as Orion New Zealand and Red Bus under commissioners to raise money for the city rebuild.

Button puts the blame for the council's troubles on councillors who she says have leaked confidential information to the media, destroying trust around the council table.

Speaking from Sydney, where she is attending a crime and environment conference, Button said she considered the council to still be "functional".

Government-appointed commissioners would be a huge mistake for Christchurch, she said.

"The threat of commissioners has been in our minds since quite early on. That would be a terrible thing for the city."

Button believed the council was working effectively, and most elected members got on well together.

"The leaking is what has made it hard to operate. It makes us dysfunctional," she said.

"It's really only a couple of councillors. They are the ones who have their own agendas. There's some big personal and political agendas at work.

"They really should be exposed. The rest of us are working our butts off.

"Most elected members have got the best interests of the city at heart. We are functional.

"To be honest, The Press hasn't done us any favours. You listen to the leakers all the time and you never expose them. The hard-working members look like the bad ones."

Under commissioners, rates would "skyrocket".

"Rates are relatively low in Christchurch. With commissioners, there would be no elected representatives to stand guard over the level of rates," she said.

"I think assets that have been safeguarded by the work of elected members over the years would be at risk to help pay for some of the city's rebuild. There would be no city councillors there to say 'no'."

Button said she had never worked harder than she was now.

"I'm more stressed than I've ever been before, but I'm up for the task," she said.

"I've been elected by the people and will continue to do the work."

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