Underfire Christchurch City Council has today admitted recent criticism over its performance is "justified" and has ordered an $80,000 review of its communication with the public.
Council chief executive Tony Marryatt has come under intense criticism in recent weeks over his $68,000 pay rise and decision to move a local call centre to the North Island.
Now, the council has commissioned an independent communication audit and review to improve its performance.
The council today moved to answer criticism in a joint statement from Mayor Bob Parker and Mr Marryatt.
It read: "In recent times there's been a lot of negative feedback from the community about Tony Marryatt's role as chief executive and the performance of the Christchurch City Council.
"We have listened to and read the criticism that's been made and recognise and agree that what many people are saying is justified.
"We accept that there needs to be change because, at a time like this, people need to feel and to know there's a steady, strong, sympathetic and more visible hand running their city council."
The statement said Mr Marryat would be "out and about" in the community in order to "listen, learn and act on what people are thinking and feeling" about their local authority.
It said: "In the past this role has been left to the mayor and councillors but recent events have shown that this needs to change."
The council said it had planned a review of how it communicated with the public in 2010, but the plans were derailed by the earthquakes.
"It's timely to revive it now," the council said today.
The audit and review, which is estimated to cost about $80,000, will involve discussion with up to 120 people within the council and the Christchurch community, as well as an analysis of the council's "communication materials".
It is also likely to involve a survey of ratepayers.
The full report will be made public as soon as it is received by councillors.
The review, which will start next week, will be carried out by Felicity Price, who has resigned from communications firm Carter Price Rennie to carry out the work.