Mayoral rivals trade shots over community boards

17:00, Jun 22 2010

Christchurch's leading mayoral contenders are arguing over how much power the city's community boards have.

Jim Anderton said yesterday the eight "toothless" community boards would get more power if he won the mayoralty, while Mayor Bob Parker denied boards had been downgraded during his term.

Parker was backed by a community board chairwoman who said her board felt valued by the Christchurch City Council.

Anderton said board members were sidelined, often excluded or "barely consulted" over important local decisions such as bus lanes and shopping centres.

Boards should be made to feel valued, he said.

"Community boards are at the coalface of local government. We have to support and resource them to make sure they can meet the demands of their communities," he said.

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"Toothless boards will not have the respect of their communities and are of no use to anyone."

He said he wanted to "see the trust between the council and boards rebuilt so we can get on with servicing the people of our city together".

Parker said the council had strengthened its links with community boards.

"I am a great fan of community boards, having served on one myself," he said. "I am a great believer in delegating decisions where appropriate to community boards. They have my full support."

Parker said a monthly council meeting was dedicated to community board business, and board heads had regular "informal dialogue" with councillors and senior staff, and monthly meetings with council chief executive Tony Marryatt.

Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Community Board chairwoman Paula Smith said she was "not dissatisfied" with the board's place in the political landscape. "There's always room for improvements though."

The Press