It won't come as a surprise to learn that I'm not one of those who think that city councils should stick to the 'core' services - as the Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide thinks they should. Local councils have a social role to play well beyond the upkeep of roads and drains.

Here in Christchurch Mayor Sideshow Bob and his council supporters - the conservative 'independent' councillors ( some who have links to the National Party) - have shown a suspect and unenthusiastic commitment to that social role.

Two notable examples in recent times have been the attempt by Sideshow Bob and his council chums to put council rents up a massive 24 percent - which was squashed by the High Court. I think Sideshow Bob - backed by his right hand man Tony Marryatt - has an agenda to sell off some, if not all, of the council's housing stock.

Similarly the cutbacks to community funding also demonstrated that here is a Mayor with a dubious commitment to the community he purports to represent.

The claim that cutbacks had to be made in these tough times is entirely fatuous when we consider what Sideshow Bob has been spending ratepayers money on.

This includes $5 million for the naming rights to an Auckland garden show and $18 million for five-over valued buildings from besieged property developer and Sideshow Bob supporter, Dave Henderson.

The latest proposed addition to the list of dubious budgetary items is the intention to spend some $25 million on a music school in the Christchurch Arts Centre - one of the city's most valued cultural and tourist sites.

The formal council vote was 7-6 in favour, with the casting vote of Sideshow Bob tilting the balance in favour of the new building.

Mike Wall, Barry Corbett, Ngaire Button, Gail Sheriff, Claudia Reid, Bob Shearing and Mayor Bob Parker voted in favour of the deal, while Helen Broughton, Norm Withers, David Cox, Yani Johanson, Sally Buck and Chrissie Williams voted against it.

Councillors Withers, Cox and Buck initially voted in favour of the scheme in July.

It's been a favourite refrain of Sideshow Bob and his council supporters that they 'listen to the what the community is saying'. The reality though is that they pretend to listen and then do what they want anyway.

Such was the case with the proposed new University of Canterbury music school.

Public consultation on the proposal attracted 475 opposing submissions and only 31 in support.

It has also included excluding the public on a council workshop on the music school - but allowing university Vice Chancellor, Rod Carr, to attend.

Councillor Yani Johanson walked out of the workshop, describing it as 'undemocratic'.

Under the proposed deal, the Arts Centre would lease the site to the council, which would borrow money to build the music centre. The university would sign a long-term lease that would cover the council's borrowing and lease expenses. The council would borrow $24.3m to cover the cost of constructing the building and 38 car parks, a 20-year pre-payment of the land lease to the Arts Centre Trust Board, working capital and 40 extra car parks for council use.

It will effectively turn public land into private land.

Withers, Broughton, Williams and Cox said central government, not the council, should fund a university building.

The building will dwarf the historically important buildings of the Arts Centre -which the Arts Centre Trust is, by legislation, required to protect.

Celebrated architect Peter Beaven has accused the council of 'fundamentally poor heritage practice.'

He says the stone buildings of the Arts Centre are of national and international importance and that the uniqueness of the Arts Centre would be destroyed by 'building a modern insertion'.

John Wilson, a local Christchurch historian and heritage advocate says that ' there are too many examples in Christchurch of developments close to historic buildings leaving those buildings intact but compromising their heritage value'.

He also points out that heritage is not just bricks and mortar.

'The traditions of easy public access and varied activities that have grown up at the Arts Centre through the forty year since the University vacated the site are now part of the city's heritage and should be jealously protected.'

The proposed new building will be part of a block mostly off limits to the general public'

Opponents of the proposed new building will fight Sideshow Bob and his supporters through the resource consent process and will lodge other appeals as and when required.

It will likely mean that the whole scheme will be lost in a legal maze for years to come.

Sideshow Bob may of well bitten off more than he can chew this time. His opponents are well organised and not without financial resources.

Save Our Arts Centre


  1. I cannot believe that the council want to build this absolute monstrosity right in the middle of the Arts Centre.

    It will absolutely destroy the gentle and pleasing aesthetics of the Arts Centre - the very things that attract people to the Arts Centre.

    If this turkey of a plan goes ahead not only will one area of the Arts Centre be fenced off from the public permanently - it will also create a barrier for people who want to take a stroll through the Arts Centre. that will no longer be possible.

    Such shortsightness by the Christchurch City Council is breathtaking. The only hope is that opponents can defeat this idiocy in the courts. Least ways it will be bogged down legal argument for years - by that time we will hopefully have a new mayor and council who will put an end to this scheme.

    How much is architect Miles Warren getting paid for all this?

  2. In the 'Christchurch Star' today Bob Parker's column tells us that
    the Music school will bring new energy to the city.

    Wow, get down to the Arts centre to have fun and eat up, and all of a sudden,
    academia attack:

    Music hall riots over Mendelssohn's Sympnonie no.1 in C minor.

    Bob tells us that the Music Hall
    [ which in plan is obscenely indifferent to the surrounding architecture]
    is among the initiatives which will
    "start to reverse the draining of our city into the suburbs"

    like How?

    Who is going to come to the academic conservatorium boring except Rod Carr and
    Bob and Jo and some poor students
    who have to rush there from Ilam between lectures.

    And Bob states that although the lease costs to the university will be
    "lower then market rates" the whole thing will still be
    "cash flow neutral and have no impact on rates"

    You are telling us Bob that you can give away money to the University
    and it will not cost ratepayers:
    But it will punters it will, of course it will.
    Bob is a fiscally facile feudal lord, and I voted for him.

    Who believes you Bob?. Your Council, and Rod Carr.

    Don't you just love this Tuamspeak term "cash flow neutral"
    means like you'll never get to see the books.

    Well, the same claptrap in almost the exact words they gave to us to explain
    how the new Hereford palace
    would cost $60 million plus a few odds and ends
    [ like the lease payments of $16 million per year to the $150 million
    capitalisation of Ngai Tahu share ]
    think $200 million dollars Citizens.

    "Under the proposal the Council would, through one of its many Companies,
    enter into a long term lease agreement with the university ..
    ensuring the lease repayments recover all costs.
    Try to get hold of the accounts for the Hereford palace and see how you get on.

    One thing if anything we know about Bob Parker and this Council is that they
    are racking up over a quarter of a billion dollars
    of costs for future ratepayers.

    Well its hard to know if Bob writes these 'Christchurch Star' articles
    himself, but I doubt it:
    the constant repetition of "Tuam speak' reads like he just signs of the
    propaganda sheet.

    And more and more Bob seems his own victim of his visions and that propaganda
    support, which I call Bobbledy gook.

    posted at canterbury forum

  3. As I recall, when concerns of Richard Sinke & the Save Our Arts Centre campaigners were first raised about the lawfulness of the Arts Centre music school proposal, an issue about personal liability of individual Christchurch City Councillors supporting the Arts Centre Trust Board was made. From memory this was first reported on Newstalk ZB’s talkback.

    As a Christchurch ratepayer, like so many others, feeling powerless to control Mayors Parkers addictive spending of other hard earned money, I was thrilled at the prospect of legal grounds for pursuing him and any Councillors and making them personally accountable for any unlawful spending.

    On further investigation with a lawyer that works within Local Government, apparently the indemnity set out in Section 43 of the Local Government Act 2002 will not apply and therefore Councillors that voted to support Bob Parkers recommendation to fund the music school will not be indemnified for their decision. This of course, assuming that the legal investigation, currently underway, finds that the decision by the Arts Centre Trust Board to allow for this proposal to proceed is in fact in breach of the Arts Centre Trust Deed.

    Much to my surprise, according to a Christchurch City Council staff member, the cost to ratepayers in pursuing the music school proposal so far could be as high as $1 millioin.

    According to my calculations, this means that individually, Crs Mike Wall, Barry Corbett, Ngaire Button, Gail Sheriff, Claudia Reid and Bob Shearing could be facing a hefty bill of almost 143,000.00 each.

    One can only assume that when the Mayor lobbied them for their vote, he made them fully aware of this potential personal liability issue!

  4. In one letter to the press an opponent remarked recently: "....this is dictatorship of the worst kind....".
    He was referring to the council and the major of Christchurch.
    It seems some of these self appointed experts for heritage have lost any perspective (and haven't studied any history either).
    The future for the Arts Centre could be a place with no music school AND no Courts Theatre (they have already announced they will leave due to restrictions of space.)
    So its coffee and buskers then plus salmonella lane (those seedy foodstalls which spring up from time to time.)
    That should qualify for World Heritage status,the next grand project of the SOAC campaigners.
    The abusive remarks against Rod Carr,Miles Warren and literally all supporting the school of music show nothing but bad manners and not the best of education.
    But there is help:
    The University offer educational courses for the public,they can help.I recommend it.

  5. The publicity stunt of the SOAC (taking the Arts Centre trust,the council and everybody else to court) has thankfully come to a crushing halt.
    The proper planning process can take place now instead of ludicrous accusations and selfrighteousness.

  6. I think that if a fantastically organised thing like SOAC really wants change to happen, it ought to encourage people to branch out and find other ways of creating change, otherwise the city council, the varsity, and the board of trustees at the arts centre will all see who is organising things, and act accordingly to hurry up decisions before any organised events happen etc. I strongly advise people to branch out as well as join this group if they see it appropriate. We don't want a situation where the enemy knows what the citizens want, and trys to thwart their efforts because SOAC is too visibly organised.

  7. A fantastically organised thing like the SOAC ??
    Maybe they are fantastically organised,but I would not want to go near them with a bargepole. They act "in the best interest"" of whom ?? The Dux de Lux,Mrs. Hercus ?? They certainly sue anybody who dares to have different views with their selfrighteous approach to everything. But I guess in these quarters here,where all democracy starts thats considered heroic,as the enemy-we all know this- are the democratically elected council and its mayor.So lets get rid of them and let people finally decide whats really best for them.
    Welcome to Cockooland .

  8. From the tone of the above contributor it’s clear that they are well entrenched in the Parker, Carr & Franklin camp.


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