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Christchurch City Council chamber to be reworked

27 August 2004

The main Christchurch City Council chamber is to be reworked to better serve the public and the smaller number of elected members who will represent the city from October.

The council has had 24 members and a mayor but a decision this year from the Local Government Commission means the city’s six communities/wards will be represented after the 9 October local body elections by a mayor and a dozen councillors.

Merv Altments, the Council’s support services manager, says the chamber, on the ground floor of the Civic Offices on Tuam Street, will be opened up so it is directly accessible from the building’s foyer. It is intended to make much more use of the chamber than has been the case until now.

Although the building’s meeting and function spaces are in demand, the chamber is only being used five or six times a month. After the changes it is expected it will be used several times a day.

“The current council is recommending that the new smaller council meet more often. Committee meetings will be held there and there’s a real need for more accessible spaces in this building for public meetings and civic functions,” Mr Altments says. “The plan is to open up the chamber, with better facilities for elected members, the public and the reporters covering the meetings and functions held there.”

Mayor Garry Moore says the work is needed to create an environment which is “more conducive to a quality interaction with each other and the public. Our chamber was designed in 1980, and for those who have travelled to other councils, I’m sure you’d agree with me that the layout and ambiance of our chamber leaves a lot to be desired.”

The project is at the concept stage. Before a cost estimate can be given, detailed drawings will need to be done, quotes sought from contractors and a decision made about whether to go ahead or amend the scope of the project.

In its last budget round, the City Council decided to begin planning for a move out of the Tuam Street building. Mr Altments said that would take up to five years - almost two council terms.

“We’re going to be in this building for up to five years, but we’ll ensure that with this refurbishment any furniture and other equipment is modular and able to be reused,” Mr Altments says.

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