Council's 'arranged marriage' on the rocks

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013

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OPINION: The Christchurch City Council's "arranged marriage" with the Government was always going to hit trouble.

While both parties have a common goal - a better Christchurch - they are poles apart in their political views.

Questions over who was going to wear the trousers were always going to surface and it was only a matter of time before they started to air their dirty laundry in public.


The IANZ letter

The IANZ audit report from 2012


The "media missile" that Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee fired at the council over its consenting problems this week is a prime example of that.

While Mayor Bob Parker can quite rightly take umbrage, he has to take some of what Brownlee says on the chin. The council does clearly have issues with the timeliness of its consenting processes.

But why did Brownlee choose to raise the issue in such a public manner? If he had concerns, why didn't he raise them directly with the council? He's got Parker's number, and the government department he rules is next door to the council's headquarters.

Is this part of an ongoing offensive aimed at weakening the council in the public's perception?

In recent months, Brownlee has attacked the council over its slowness in rebuilding its damaged social housing stock and its decision to keep section 124 notices (red stickers) on dozens of Port Hills homes that the Government had green-zoned.

Some of the criticism was justified, but the fast and furious nature of the attacks suggests there is a bigger political agenda at play, particularly as the council and the Government are currently locked in negotiations over who will pay for the anchor projects in Christchurch's new central business district.

It may not be a coincidence that in the very week those negotiations are due to wrap up, Brownlee has again lobbed a grenade in the council's direction.

You would think by now the council would have learnt not to make itself such an easy target.

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