Withers elected as Parker's deputy

Last updated 00:00 25/10/2007
KIRK HARGREAVES
SWORN IN: Bob Parker receives the regalia of office as Christchurch's new Mayor.

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Bob Parker officially began his reign as Christchurch Mayor yesterday, with Cr Norm Withers elected as his deputy.

The chains of office were laid on Parker's shoulders by former mayor Garry Moore at a ceremony yesterday.

"It's all yours, mate," Moore said as he handed over the heavy chains.

Parker gave a brief acceptance speech, calling for unity after an election campaign he dubbed "trial by democracy".

He called for unity on the council and for the "desire of the individual to be given over to the collective decision-making process".

Parker said it was the new council's job to represent everyone in Christchurch.

"Even the ones who could not be bothered to vote," he said in reference to the 41 per cent turnout.

Parker was joined by his mother and father, Bob and Audrey Parker, at the inauguration ceremony.

"I am completely proud. I think he will do a good job," his mother said.

His 80-year-old father has been a plumber in Christchurch for 64 years and still works as a plumber for the Christchurch School of Medicine. "I am very proud. I think he is the right man for the job," he said of his son.

Returning and new councillors were sworn in at the inaugural council meeting at the Tuam Street headquarters yesterday.

Withers was unanimously elected the new deputy mayor.

He said he was "honoured and overwhelmed".

He pledged his support for Parker and his fellow councillors and said he would focus on safety in the city centre.

"I will commit to support our new mayor and all of my colleagues, who are fine people," he said.

"I will focus on safety in the inner city. We need a greater police presence in the hot spots in Christchurch."

After the ceremony, Moore described the duties of the deputy mayor to Withers in typically frank fashion.

"If someone lights a fire in the mayor's a..., it is your job to put it out," Moore told Withers.

Withers acknowledged his new role as special firefighter to the mayor. "I have got the fire extinguisher in case of need."

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