I've been saying for some time now - for most of the year in fact - that Mayor Sideshow Bob and his council supporters have a lukewarm and unenthusiastic 'commitment' to the Christchurch City Council's important social role.
The most obvious example of this was Sideshow Bob's attempt to put council rents up a massive 24 percent - which would of severely impacted on some of Christchurch's poorest people.
Similarly Sideshow Bob has taken an axe to community funding - while, at the same time, handing out a large amount of dosh to his mate, failed property developer Dave Henderson and spending some $5 million on the 'naming rights' to a garden show.
Bob's latest madness is his desire to wreck the Arts Centre by plonking a $24 million architectural monstrosity smack in the middle of it.
While Sideshow Bob likes to flaunt himself in front of the cameras -as he did recently on TV3's Sunrise, extolling the 'attractions' of Christchurch - out in the real world more community organisations are suffering 'the Bob experience'. It's a pity that TV3's Carly Flynn ddin't do some real journalism for a change and investigate what is really happening in Christchurch - rather than allowing Sideshow to spin his PR garbage.
The latest development is that the city's eleven early childhood centres have been advised by the Christchurch City Council that their leases will be renegotiated and 'possibly' set at a 'market rate'. This would mean that the leases would effectively double.
Yes, no one is safe from the Parker-Marryatt 'axis of evil'. Also flying the flag for the 'free market' are Bob's other council supporters including the very modest and certainly not patronising Sue Wells - who has recently returned from a ratepayer funded jaunt to France - and silly old duffer Barry Corbett.
The council intends to make a final decision on the leases in May next year. The leases expire on June 30.
Presently the council guarantees an annual grant to non-profit early childhood centres operating on council owned land.
In plain terms the childhood centre pays the rental. In the case of the Redwood Early Childhood Centre, for example, it is $32,000. This money would normally be refunded via a council grant.
The problem now is that the centres will have to apply to the council's 'Strengthening Communities Fund' which has some $7.7 million in its pot. However the fund is oversubscribed while, at the same time, the council has failed to increase the size of the fund.
Some of the $18 million given to Dave Henderson would have been better employed going into this fund. Or some of the $ 5 million spent on a garden show. Or the $24 million that Bob wants to waste wrecking the Arts Centre.
While the early childhood centres have enjoyed a level of stability under the present scheme, the new system means the centres have no idea whether they can even keep their doors open.
A community disaster threatens because there is no guarantee that the childchood centres will even get funding for one year, never mind the multi-year funding they have benefited from in the past.
The council says it is looking at five year leases for the centres - but the chances that the centres will receive a guarantee of five years council funding is extremely remote under the unsympathetic regime of Sideshow Bob.
Laughably, the council says that the childhood centres do have 'financial alternatives'. Oh yeah? What the council is really saying is that the centres will have to reduce costs by sacking staff and reducing services. This will, of course, have an adverse impact on the families - many of them from lower socio-economic backgrounds - who use the centres.
This is not a 'financial alternative' and is simply another case of the council failing to meet its responsibilities to the community that it claims to represent.
Joseph Ransfield is the chairman of the Redwood Childhood Centre's ' management committee and a man who clearly knows what Sideshow Bob and his council chums are all about.
'The city council are losing the community spirit.' he told the local media this week. 'They're going to user pays.'