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Major Change Needed In Cities

Major changes are needed in the way cities act and think if they are to have societies that work and where children can feel valued and loved, says Christchurch's Mayor Garry Moore.

He told the International Cities of Tomorrow Forum in Christchurch today that it was important that all cities try to make changes if they wanted to invest in a positive way in their futures.

"If we are to aim toward cities that truly work; toward making every child feel valued and loved; there is going to have to be a major set of changes brought into the way we act and think," he said.

Any major issue that had brought politics and politicians into disrepute here and overseas, it has been the behaviour of the powerful toward the truly powerless. "You do not get much more powerless than a child," he said. There was a colossal imbalance in power that comes in part from the way society had developed.

"In the last few decades the gender imbalance brought about by the changes that saw men to go work and women, the young and the old stay home, has started to even out," Mr Moore said.

The gender issues in power were continuously debated and addressed. The same did not hold true for either the young or the old.

"The plight of the young will stay static in power terms until we start to deliberately set out to deal with this issue," he said. The present power system tended to push the very qualities the changing world needed, such as creativity and innovation, out to the margins in the world of the young.

"We have a the fairly ludicrous situation that we expect people to take part in the democratic process after 18 while up till then their practical experience is all too often diluted forms of 'you will do this.'"

"It is also time that we stopped putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff with children's lives and faced the reality that the earlier those at risk are helped, the less chance they will waste their lives and taxpayers' money later as crime statistics," Mr Moore said.

It could be time to start benchmarking every legislative move at local level against the impact of that action on the young, he said.

The forum started today and will end tomorrow. The City Council and its partners in the International Cities of Tomorrow concept have organised the forum as part of a commitment to advancing the role of local government in enhancing the welfare and wellbeing of children, young people and their families through community governance and strategic management.

Further information: Liz Ellington, City Council Community Relations: 371 1962.

NB: All sessions are at the Copthorne Durham Hotel, Durham Street, Christchurch. .

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