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Anderton: Christchurch CEO Appointment Process Contaminated

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Jim Anderton
Jim Anderton

If ever a process looked contaminated, it is that being followed for the recruitment and appointment of a new chief executive of the Christchurch City Council, and it is high time the process was abandoned and started afresh, Wigram MP, Jim Anderton said today.

"To cap what has already been a controversial course of events, the Council has restricted advertising for its chief executive position to seventeen days, and included in the advertisement that the current chief executive ,Tony Marryatt, is applying for a further five years in the job. It sends a clear message to other potential candidates that they need not bother applying', Jim Anderton said.

"There are a number of troubling aspects to the current process, none less so than Mayor Bob Parker silencing council members from expressing a view on Mr Marryatt's performance, by saying that it could expose the Council to legal action, but then publicly proclaiming his own support.

"Mr Marryatt, Mayor Parker said, was the best chief executive he had ever worked with, before being reported in The Press as threatening to resign if Marryatt was not re-appointed. He then apparently went on to ask each member of council individually, in front of the others, whether they personally supported Marryatt. Attempting to silence, then badger, elected members of Council is not part of a healthy, democratic employment process, for any position, let alone such an important one as this.

"Subsequently, Mayor Parker has quite properly excluded himself from participating in the selection process but Councillor Aaron Keown, who has been equally and publicly vociferous in declaring his support for Mr Marryatt, before even knowing who else might be a candidate, must now also follow the same path and disqualify himself.

"Add to this mix, the extraordinary situation where prominent business people, led by Chamber of Commerce and Solid Energy bosses, respectively Peter Townsend and Don Elder, published an open letter setting out the qualities they felt were needed in a chief executive to lead our city. According to Townsend and Elder, the sentiments expressed in the letter were a mild version of the discussion within their Chamber. Since then, others have added their voices, with a collection of "very influential businessmen" and public office-holders expressing "a considerable amount of dissatisfaction" with Mr Marryatt's performance.

"I know only too well the deep concern of many in our city over the culture of intimidation and arrogance that has infected the administration of the Christchurch City Council.

"Something is amiss here, and I cannot help but draw the conclusion that this recruitment and appointment process should not continue. The fact that the Council is almost evenly split on such an important appointment is in itself cause for concern. This appointment is not something that has to be rushed, and it is imperative that Christchurch has a chief executive who can unite the city and inspire confidence in tackling the very important tasks which lie ahead," Jim Anderton said.

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