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The Press – Yardley column. Mar 30

The Weight of Authority.

Poor old Peter Beck. The former Cathedral Dean seems to feel wiped out by a double-dose of overbearing authority figures – first at the Cathedral and now at City Hall. The outgoing city councillor has subtly taken aim at Mayor Parker, for failing to harness a culture of open, robust, transparent governance.  This is virtually an action-replay of his predecessor’s parting shots, Chrissie Williams, when she called it quits. And this overriding perception problem remains the proverbial monkey for Parker’s mayoralty.  I took the opportunity to observe last week’s city council Earthquake Forum. The mayor prohibited councillors from raising questions or engaging with the respective parties who had come to council for some “face-time”. Just what is the point in a forum, when free-flow interaction isn’t permitted? Is just for show? Good grief – the morning tea break was longer than the allotted time for a representation. But what really struck me was the stifled, icy atmosphere around the council table. It was colder than a penguin’s bottom – with the Emperor holding court.

Phillipstown.

Several weeks ago, I argued the most contestable decision amongst the schools slated for closure or merger, was the fate of Phillipstown School. The head of Canterbury University’s Law Faculty concurs. Associate Professor Chris Gallivan has singled-out the school as having a strong case for a judicial review. So where does the local MP stand on Phillipstown’s future? The Christchurch Central MP, who happily shared the credit for securing a reprieve for Shirley Intermediate, is walking away from Phillipstown. Nicky Wagner argues the school’s twenty year trend has been a declining roll and a shrinking population base. But in recent years, the school’s roll has continued to grow. Wagner also claims that Phillipstown’s impressive National Standards report card is premature, as it hasn’t been benchmarked against other schools. Beyond the claims and counter-claims, how should the score be satisfactorily settled? Phillipstown should pursue all legal avenues.

Life of Brian.

The last time I called the EQC call centre for a personal status update, it was a forlornly comical waste of time. The fob-off was passed down with the sanctimonious tone of a primary school teacher explaining I should have raised my hand before I had the accident in my chair. Oh, make it stop. Maybe we should line up in an orderly queue at Brian Staple’s place, to rifle through any remnants of the pivot table spread-sheet, he was inadvertently sent. But before you seriously entertain such a fantasy, I am the bearer of some good news. EQC’s head office has confirmed to me that every customer in the home repair scheme, will receive a status update letter by July, informing them of their specific repair date.

Yardley’s weekly column on local current affairs, as first published in The Press on March 30.7031646

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