Corporate advisor Bruce Cotterill thinks its time to allow the corporate sector to take control of the  central Christchurch rebuild.

AS I'VE FREQUENTLY observed before, the election of Lianne Dalziel as the mayor of Christchurch has seen opposition to the corporate-approved but locally unpopular central city rebuild gradually fade away. These days any opposition is, at best, sporadic.

The very same people who were critical of Mayor Bob Parker's loyalty to the corporate blueprint are the very same people now praising Dalziel, an equally loyal supporter of the blueprint, for doing 'a good job in difficult circumstances'. Without even a hint of embarrassment, people like Barnaby Bennett will soon be declaring that Dalziel deserves a second term as mayor.

So its supremely ironic that one of the most fierce attacks on the state of the central Christchurch rebuild in recent months has come, unexpectedly, from someone from within the corporate sector itself.

While Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck thinks the rebuild is 'incredible' and Newtalk ZB's Chris Lynch thinks he can 'feel a positivity in Christchurch that wasn't there before,' corporate advisor Bruce Cotterill is refreshingly realistic and honest in his assessment of the rebuild.

Writing in the National Business Review last week he baldly states: "Five plus years on, the state of Christchurch’s CBD is a disgrace."

As evidence he points to what locals can see everyday. He describes a central city pockmarked by empty and abandoned buildings, half demolished buildings, empty streets strewn with rubble and wasteland, wasteland and more wasteland.

Cotterill says he was a supporter of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) as "ambitious and innovative", but now concedes that it failed:

"Government bureaucracies are not the type of organisations you would choose to get big projects completed on time or on budget. (Incidentally, I shudder to think of what has happened to building costs in the five years we have been dithering.) They are slow. They are constantly seeking more and more information to support an idea, a process that is highly effective at covering backsides but dramatically slows decision-making. At CERA, there was far too much effort in reporting to the minister and not enough effort in rebuilding the city."

Unsurprisingly he has little time for CERA's replacement, Regenerate Christchurch, which he regards largely as a rebranding exercise. With over 100 ex-CERA staff now working for the new recovery authorities, its difficult to disagree with him.

But Cotterill is a corporate man and his solution to the problems plaguing the central city rebuild is to hand over direct responsibility for the rebuild to the corporate sector. He does not reject  the top-down rebuild as fundamentally wrong - just that the wrong people are at the top, running the show.

So, apparently, we need to cut out the 'middleman', Regenerate Christchurch, and establish what Cotterill calls the City Transition Authority with 'a leadership structure for that authority comprising the best business minds in the country.'

But there is no place for local people in Cotterill's grand design. While Regenerate Christchurch pays lip service to the idea of community involvement and decision making, Cotterill is talking pure corporate power dictating the course of the central city rebuild. Interestingly he thinks Mayor Lianne Dalziel would have no problems in grasping the new corporate ethos being 'a smart and politically astute woman.'

Neither under Regenerate Christchurch or Cotterill's City Transition Authority are the people of Christchurch allowed to rebuild their own city.

But there has only ever been one thing that could that have in any way compensated the people of Christchurch for the disaster that befell us all and that was the power to rebuild our city the way we saw fit. We continue to be denied that power.


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