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Is Christchurch Council safe?

  • December 21st, 2011

This morning's Press contains the first official hints I've seen that the Christchurch Council could be sacked, following the path pioneered by the incompetent and unlamented Environment Canterbury.

I'd heard some months ago that a prospective Commissioner had been sounded out for Christchurch. Tough talk by the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, about Hamilton City Council if it failed to heed the Auditor General's advice on its financial incompetence* seemed to be warming up by  the government to give Christchurch a chance to thrive without some of the ball and chains it has habitually elected.

Under section 256 of the Local Government Act 2002 the Minister may appoint a commissioner to perform and exercise a local authority's responsibilities, duties and powers either generally or to the extent specified in the notice.

The minister must have formally warned the local authority and have concluded that the local authority "is wilfully refusing of substantially refusing to perform and exercise its duties and powers under this Act or any other enactment" and that the refusal is "impairing or likely to impair the good local government" of the city or "endangering or likely to endanger the public health or safety" of the city.

A less definitive intervention could be under section 254 which empowers the Minister to appoint a "review authority" to report on whether there has been "a significant or persistent failure by the local authority to meet its obligations" under statute, or " significant and identifiable mismanagement of the resources of the local authority" or there is a significant and identifiable deficiency in the management or decision-making processes of the local authority".

Both would be inflammatory, but the appointment of an objective and reputable reviewer would seem  a more likely initial step by the Minister than a sacking.

I understand that strong intervention could even have the support of some Christchurch Councillors, frustrated by their inability to make their Council more constructive, and impressed by Gerry Brownlee's capacity for leadership.

Unfortunately sackings and reviews rarely sheet the responsibility home where it should lie – often with people who know how to get ill-informed votes. Lets hope the electorate  thumbs down to Clayton Cosgrove and perhaps Brendan Burns (showing public distaste for ruthless politicking) contrasting with the voter loyalty to the constructive MPs Ruth Dyson and Lianne Dalziell, might send the right  message to Labour's nastier activists if they have ears to listen.

* Auckland Council had hired the senior person at the heart of the Hamilton woes but has since managed to lose him.


  • Ingolfson
  • December 21st, 2011
  • 4:07 pm

So the solution for "incompetent" politicians is for higher-level politicians to sack them? Great. Why don't we let Wellington run everything?
In a democracy, VOTERS have to sack incompetent politicians. It is not the place (and highly dangerous) to constantly have higher levels intervene in legally elected person's responsibilities.


the Christchurch Council is incompetent at every level, challenge me, get facts

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