|Spokesperson for the Option3+ group, Barnaby Bennett.|
The calls for a 'locally led recovery' are little more than calls for the Christchurch recovery to be led by the same people who imposed a massive rates hike on the people of Christchurch and who want to privatise council assets.
WITH THE CANTERBURY EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY AUTHORITY (CERA) soon to be replaced by Regenerate Christchurch, the call has gone out for a 'locally led recovery'. I would join this call if it was a genuine 'locally led recovery' but it isn't.
The Option3+ group ("a Christchurch City Council-led recovery approach, with the Crown in close support") is warning, justifiably, that Regenerate Christchurch could simply turn out to be the 'Son of Cera'.
However there is also the justifiable concern that the 'locally led recovery' would simply see the transfer of authority to another set of politicians and bureaucrats that sit in the plush offices of the Christchurch City Council. It would just be a case of musical chairs among the city's political elite.
A locally led recovery is one thing, but one led by the Christchurch City Council is something else altogether.
The Option3+ group does not truly represent the concerns of local people, although it pretends it does. In reality it represents the interests of Mayor Lianne Dalziel and her coterie of supporters on the Christchurch City Council.
The group is led by Dalziel supporters like former mayor Gary Moore and architectural designer Barnaby Bennett, who is the spokesperson for the group.
It also has the support of local Newstalk ZB host Chris Lynch and Deon Swiggs of the Rebuild Christchurch website. You might remember Chris Lynch from such outbursts as 'Steve Cowan is a loony lefty', one of my personal favourites.
Other supporters of this group are councillors Ali Jones and Raf Manji, the chair of the Finance Committee. They too are, of course, dedicated Dalziel supporters. Ali Jones was in the news recently insisting that it wasn't the job of the Christchurch City Council to help the homeless.
Many of us think a 'locally led recovery' should not include a massive rates hike (28 percent over four years) and the privatisation of council assets. But both Moore and Bennett have defended these unpopular measures which were vigorously campaigned for by the likes of Ali Jones and Raf Manji. (As an aside, Manji's presentation of himself as a 'progressive entrepreneur' is the kind of nonsense only someone who made his fortune in the world of casino capitalism could actually believe is credible).
And while the Option3+ group may be calling call for more local democracy, its credibility is seriously compromised (I'm being generous) because it has turned a blind eye to a recent affront to local democracy. That, of course, was the disgraceful decision by Lianne Dalziel and her council supporters to ignore the over 3000 submissions that were overwhelmingly opposed to the rates increase and to privatisation. The proceeds of which will be used to help fund a central city rebuild that is economically unsustainable.
The demand for a 'locally led recovery' from the Option3+ group is a call for the Christchurch City Council to take the reins of Regenerate Christchurch. But many of us don't have confidence in a Christchurch City Council that intends to burden us with a massive rates hike and flog off council assets - that we don't want to be sold. That's not my idea of a 'locally led recovery'.
I certainly don't have confidence in a mayor who said at the beginning of her mayoralty that the people of Christchurch would inherit the ongoing cost associated with the debt to pay for central anchor projects.
What's always been absent is a unified and organized political opposition contesting for power that could have led to an altogether different recovery for Christchurch - a real local recovery led by local people at the grassroots level.