Dean confirms he is running for council

03:38, Dec 07 2011
CHANGING DIRECTION: The Very Reverend Peter Beck, Anglican Dean of Christchurch.

Peter Beck has confirmed he will quit "the best job" in the church as Dean of Christ Church Cathedral to run for a seat on the Christchurch City Council.

The confirmation comes after the Christchurch Mail today published the news on its front page, based on information from an inside source.

Beck, ordained Anglican Dean of Christchurch in 2002, will run as an independent in the by-election in the Burwood-Pegasus ward for the seat left vacant by former councillor Chrissie Williams.

It is understood Beck's nomination has been endorsed by the Labour Party and that Labour will not field a candidate.

In a statement released today, Beck said he had made "the very difficult decision" to stand down from his post at the cathedral so he could contest the council seat.

"The best way I can represent many communities, including the church, is to campaign for a seat around the council table."


He said the community needed compassionate leadership, but it was also "very clear" that business was a key to driving the economic recovery of the city.

Williams resigned in September, citing ill health and frustration with council processes as factors.

Beck became one of the figureheads of the city after the February 22 earthquake.

He is patron of the Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network, which organised a "show your colours" rally and march in Cranmer Square last month, calling for transparency and honesty from insurers and quake recovery authorities.

Two other candidates have confirmed they are standing.

In a political shift, Burwood-Pegasus Community Board chairwoman Linda Stewart will run as an independent. In the 2010 local body elections, she ran for the board as a 2021-backed independent.

She said her focus would be on a strategic plan for the eastern ward pitching towards a recreation-tourism destination.

North Beach surf lifesaving and sports identity David East is also in the race.

He said he would back a New Brighton master plan that reflected the changing scene and a red-zone wetland river corridor, "rather than spending lot of money on an earthquake memorial".

Cathedral should remain in the Square

Beck said a new dean would be involved in the building of a new and wonderful cathedral to "honour our heritage and build for the future".

"It must firstly be a safe place for people to gather and to worship. The safety of people is the first priority for any future cathedral."

Work was under way to demolish the minimum amount possible to make the severely damaged cathedral safe.

"I will continue to be fully involved in this during my three-month notice period," said Beck.

His statement confirmed he was "strongly of the view" that a new cathedral should be rebuilt on the same site to create a place "considered iconic and a symbol of Christchurch's resilience following the earthquakes".

Beck said he would continue to be involved with the church, and he and wife Gay were committed to playing a role in the city's recovery.

Cathedral Chapter chairman Anthony Wright said Beck had been an inspirational pastor and "a powerful bridge" between the cathedral and city.

He noted Beck's "personal warmth and humanity".