The Christchurch City Council has ignored the people of Christchurch and voted to flog off council assets and hike up rates by a massive 28 percent over the next four years. Will there be a backlash?
MAYOR LIANNE DALZIELL and her seven loyal supporters on the Christchurch City Council gave the good people of Christchurch the bird and voted in a long term plan (LTP) that includes asset sales and a massive rates hike.
It was always going to come down to this. The so-called period of public consultation was always an empty charade, cynically designed to give the impression that people were seriously being listened to. But they never were. Dalziel and followers cooked up this unsavoury package behind closed doors.
Dalziel and co are not listening to the people of Christchurch but Cameron Advisors, the pro privatisation wideboy that was employed to prepare the case for privatisation and to guide the council though the process.
The overwhelming majority of the over 3000 submissions were opposed to asset sales and the rates hike. Apparently though, according to Dalziel, the council had listened to the concerns expressed in the submissions.
Dalziel was talking more nonsense after the LTP was passed by 8-6. She told the media that even though the next rate instalment would see an 8 percent rise she was committed to keep the rise rises down after that. Since the council has approved a rates rise of some 28 percent over the next four years, Dalziel was simply posturing - again.
In fact once the city council begin to lose the income stream which its assets have provided , we can expect rates to accelerate further upwards. It will be 'short term gain for long term pain'. That's something Finance committee chairperson Raf Manji wrote when he opposed the partial privatisation of the state electricity companies.
There will also be job losses when city council workers find themselves being 'privatised' and deemed 'surplus to requirements' in the 'new commercial environment'.
The only councillors who have emerged from this debacle with any credit are the six People's Choice councillors. They stayed true to their pre-election pledge that promised all significant public assets would be kept in public ownership and control.
The Press urged the six councillors to demonstrate 'unity' and vote for the LTP. They rightfully ignored the newspaper, a mouthpiece for corporate interests.
Cr Yani Johanson told his fellow councillors: "Overwhelmingly the public have fed back to us they do not support the asset sale agenda we have put out as part of our financial strategy."
Cr Glen Livingstone said that council "shouldn't be taking the chicken route because it's easy".
The People's Choice councillors also produced an alternative budget. It was never even considered by the Dalziel gang. Manji, who consistently tried to claim that there was 'no alternative' to asset sales and the rates hike, accused the six councillors of 'playing politics' when they presented him with such an alternative.
This issue still has some way to play out and it will be interesting to see how the local community reacts to what has been foisted on them by their well-heeled 'representatives' against their expressed wishes.
Already talk of a rates revolt is in the air, with at least one meeting having already taken place. Will it proceed any further? It might well be spurred on by the next rates demand and the rent rises that will inevitably flow from the massive rates hike. The people of Christchurch, many of whom are already struggling financially, may well decide that enough is enough.
The eight that supported privatisation and the massive rates hike were: Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, Raf Manji, Ali Jones, Jamie Gough, David East, Paul Lonsdale, Tim Scandrett.