Christchurch mayor Bob Parker won't seek re-election

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has pulled out of the upcoming mayoral race.

Mr Parker told TV3`s John Campbell he didn't have another three years of the stress, pressure and "cope-ability'' left in him.

"It's really, really hard work. I've got to say, I love the organisation that I work in and for and I'm incredibly proud of this city. But I'm incredibly proud of the people that I work alongside and they have had a pounding,'' he said.

Mr Parker said there was a question in the minds of the community around some of the recent happenings at council and as the leader on the governance side, he had a responsibility to accept whether he did everything he could or whether there were things he should have done.

"I have to face up to that responsibility.''

In the latest blow for Christchurch City Council, it was revealed this evening that its insurance cover for claims under the Building Act has been withdrawn in the wake of the city's consenting crisis.

The Government today said the council had advised that its professional indemnity and public liability insurer Riskpool had withdrawn cover from July 1.

International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ), which withdrew the council's ability to issue consents, has raised concerns over technical processing that means building consents might not meet the requirements of the building code.

The council voted yesterday to allow a Crown manager to take over the council's building consent functions.

Council chief executive Tony Marryatt also went on indefinite leave this week over the consenting debacle.

"A guy that I've worked alongside for a number of years, for whom I have a lot of respect ... I'm not saying that Tony's perfect in every respect but I also know how hard he's worked ... and all I see that gets directed at him quite frankly is a lot of negativity,'' Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker's decision not to seek re-election leaves the mayoral race open for Lianne Dalziel, Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman and a Labour MP.

Ms Dalziel, a MP for Christchurch East since 1999, confirmed she last month she would stand against Mr Parker in the local body elections in October and would resign as an MP before then.

Ms Dalziel said Mr Parker's decision was unexpected.

"I did actually feel really sad when I watched that and I don't think anyone could possibly not think that Bob's given his all and that he's utterly exhausted,'' she said.

Ms Dalziel said she appreciated that Mr Parker had said he was not up to taking on another three years.

"I think we should truly acknowledge the performance he put in on behalf of the city after the earthquakes ... where he was amazing.''

Ms Dalziel said Mr Parker's decision meant that there would be real change.

"Instead of it being a battle between two people offering two different forms of leadership, this is actually about there going to be change and what does this change look like,'' she said.

She would be putting her case to the people of Christchurch and hoping that her vision for the city was one they would want to sign up for.

Mr Parker, who has been mayor since 2007, said when Ms Dalziel announced her intention that he believed he had enough support to retain the job.

Mr Parker paid tribute to all the people he worked with in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes, saying he couldn't have done what he did without them.

"For just one moment in time maybe half a million of us shared something, a shared moment, the terror, the fear, the shock, the pain of that earthquake moment and it knitted us together in a way that I can see beginning to come apart and I think that's a great shame,'' he said.

Mr Parker said he carried political baggage from the earthquakes that was stopping the city from moving forward.

The following is a statement from Mayor Bob Parker:

As difficult as this decision is, I have decided that I am not going to stand for Mayor at the upcoming election in October.

I have to think of my own well-being, and those closest to me, and I don't believe I have the energy to lead this city for another term. I feel exhausted having worked non-stop over the past six years in office and I know that I can't sustain the pressure and stress of this job for another three. The people of this city need a fresh face to lead them over the next three years, when there will be so many great things happening with the rebuild of this city.

I really love the organisation I work for and I'm incredibly proud of this city and the people I work alongside on a daily basis. They've taken a pounding since the earthquakes and they have continued to perform outstandingly against much adversity. I've put my heart and soul in to this job, as I know they have, and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for their loyalty and support.

It's taken a great deal of self-examination to walk away from this job.

The people of this city have stood beside each other since the earthquakes and have faced extremely demanding challenges. Their strength astonishes me and I know they now deserve to move forward with their lives with a new mayor at the helm. Everyone deserves a fresh start and this city needs to be led by someone who has the energy and drive to take them on this journey.

The future is so bright for this magnificent city and I know there are many tremendous things already starting to happen here. I was born here and truly love this place, so I hope to find a new role where I can continue to contribute to the future of this city.

- APNZ

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