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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Silly idea of the year candidate - Ian Athfield as Architectural Ambassador

Somehow Ian Athfield became the architectural ambassador for Christchurch. We were out of the country during September and haven't found out exactly how this occurred, except it was apparently done to us by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. Having lived in Wellington in the 1970s and 80s I can think of nothing before or during that time which would have merited such an award, perhaps it all occurred afterwards. Whatever the reason, he had the ambassadorial position.

Reading the Otago Daily Times on Tuesday, and the Press yesterday, it seems Mr Athfield has the view that the only things the city should have are those that please him. Unless city planners abandon the one way system, and re-route the buses so there are fewer buses in the city, he will resign. Yes, the one way system is problematic, but manageable never the less. Re-routing the buses seems counter intuitive - the long term growth in bus patronage has been significant and surely buses should go where they are needed.

Taking the word "ambassador" literally, he should be promoting ideas from the constituency he represents, possibly even advising, and prompting. Issuing ultimatums that must be met to ensure his continued participation is outside that role; unless it is a prelude to a spectacular resignation from a position that is now bigger than he envisaged.

Irrespective of the merits of his position, the bottom line is that Christchurch is our city and we are the ones to be determining what is done, where, and how. To start issuing ultimatums, perhaps to be followed by further edicts, is inappropriate, petulant behaviour. Yes, a disaster does provide an opportunity to start from scratch, and resistance to change is reduced by natural disasters. However these situations should not be seen as an opportunity to impose solutions from the top, or an elitist position.

Perhaps when the new ministerial structure is announced in a week or so, the new chief executive will look at whether we need Mr Athfield and assess local feeling on the matter.

It is probably sufficient to say he is unsuitable for the position, should be deemed persona non grata, his credentials revoked, and sent back to Wellington.

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