Sunday, May 01, 2005

Know Your Councillor. Part Three

Norm “justice for all” Withers.
Shirley/Papanui Ward.

Even those that don’t live in Christchurch have probably heard of Norm Withers. He rose to national prominence during the 1990s with his law and order referendum. That’s the one 92% of people supported … the eight percent that didn’'t seemed to include a fair few politicians as the hardline approach Norm and his supporters advocated has never really been addressed. He’s now a second term Councillor and it’d be fair to say, and I think Councillor Withers would agree, that without the publicity his referendum garnered his chances of a career in local body politics would have been slim.

He still keeps to the law and order line but is one of the less vociferous debaters on the Council. Unusually for a politician he only appears to speak out when it’s an issue he fully understands and is passionate about. Unfortunately I suspect it also means that his understanding of certain areas of Council business (e.g. planning) might be a bit lacking. On the positive side he is a genuine sort of a bloke. You might not agree with his opinions but it’s very hard to take offence at the way he pursues his arguments.

Anna “save all the old buildings” Crighton.
Hagley Ferrymead.

Councillor Crighton’'s time at the City Council will be forever remembered for her crusade to save historic buildings, and her dogged, but often futile, attempts to get funding for artistic projects in Christchurch. That and for also sometimes being a bit of a space cadet. There are the occasional Council meetings where you wonder exactly what colour her hair will be that day, and what is going on behind her sunglass obscured eyes. (There is a possibility this is due to a medical condition). I suspect she moves in a timeline all of her own as she often rises to make comment well after the issue she wants to debate has been passed. Maybe the incredible boredom that surrounds Council deliberations causes her to lose track of proceedings, or perhaps she’s just not paying attention.

As referred to above Councillor Crighton is a crusader for the arts. Which is tough for her as the majority of her colleagues have about as much artistic taste and appreciation as a constipated rhino. It’s fair to say she fights an uphill battle most of the time, but it’s a war in which she’s had a number of victories. The restoration of the Coachman Hotel, Warners Hotel, and the preservation of a number of heritage buildings may not have happened without her advocacy on Council. Admittedly along with the successes there have also been a few failures and embarrassments.(for the record the waka is till yet to be displayed)