We are starting a new column. During the campaign we all heard about “Phil gets things done”. It was a winning PR line. Now’s the time to measure the performance of the new mayor using his own by-line.
This week let’s consider the council consultation over roading around the stadium.
On Friday the Press reported in https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/130300592/council-presses-pause-on-stadium-streets-upgrade-after-mayor-calls-for-delay that a pause had been placed on the proposal by the previous Council to consult over the proposed roading around the stadium. Here’s what the Press reported:
Christchurch City Council launched consultation on the scheme and released its proposed plans covering Lichfield, Madras, Tuam and Barbadoes streets.
The aim was to have the work finished in time for the stadium to open in 2026.
In the story there were several reasons given for why a delay has been called for.
Firstly, the Press reported that: Mauger confirmed on Thursday, Baxendale’s decision to pause was a consequence of his wish not to proceed with the project.
The second reason was from Dawn Baxendale: In a release, Baxendale said while the previous council directed staff to proceed with consultation, there was now a new mayor and council.
She said it was important staff had time to thoroughly brief councillors on the proposals. Councillors needed time to consider all the issues before they were asked to make a decision on the next steps.
Possibly one of the reasons is the truth.
However, there are several problems with the mayor and CEO’s excuses.
- The decision to consult might have been taken by the previous council but hundreds of people have already written in submissions. These might affirm what Phil has said but an elected official must not predetermine a process. That behaviour is precisely why people are fed up with CCC and politicians.
- A mayor is one vote around the table, and fortunately CCC is not an autocracy. A mayor can have an opinion but cannot direct in the way he is behaving.
- The job of the CEO is to conduct their work in an unbiased, apolitical, and objective manner. Not be directed by one person, who just happens to be the mayor.
This is an example of poor public governance. Phil did say during the election he didn’t do governance. It’s time he learnt it. When an institution decides to consult the public on a roading issue as important as this it should not backtrack part way through. When an elected person in a powerful position decides that they don’t like a proposal and orders that it be stopped that is an outstanding example of autocratic behaviour.
When a CEO, who should know better, goes along with this undemocratic behaviour it raises a red flag. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come under this administration.