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Friday, 27 May 2011

The CCC - Reaction and Resistance

After the September earthquake Christchurch police produced an intelligence report. Using past disaster experiences from other countries, they tried to anticipate how problems related to social cohesion and alienation would unfold in Christchurch (the police report is here). The most obvious ones seemed to be frustration and anger leading to legal disputes or protest action of the physical and confrontational kind. There have been hints of protest action to come, however bubbling away below the surface are two forms of protest not related to law enforcement.

The first is at the individual level where a ratepayer in the east has decided to stop paying rates. There may be more than one, and as an idea it has merit. The council is providing nothing to the east, and because the council is taking away what little there is here (Super Shed, QEII pool, maybe all of the QEII facilities), the payment of rates doesn't seem appropriate. It might be an idea that will grow in popularity and, if the council cannot appease those who are unhappy with them, the council might go broke before the issue is otherwise resolved. It is worth thinking about.

The second is an e-mail doing the rounds on the subject of transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability within the council. Raising performance issues associated with the chief executive it is calling, amongst other things, for an independent review of his performance. Addressed to all councillors, the e-mail allegedly comes from an organisation called the Christchurch Rate Payers Accountability Trust.  The Press has an article about this here. This is not a new issue but needs to be resolved quickly to retain the confidence of the people of Christchurch. If confidence in the Council and its officers is lost, every council action will be considered suspect. In this environment there is potential for some actions to be resented and resisted.

Neither of the micro rates revolt or the push for accountability may get far, however if the council doesn't deal quickly, and successfully, with these issues there will be a rapid rise in dissatisfaction. What follows then will polarise the community and marginalise the council to the point where the government will need to intervene as it did with Environment Canterbury. In fact the November elections would be a very good time to have special local body elections for councillors and mayor to ensure the citizens of greater Christchurch have the leadership they want.

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