Makeover for Environment Southland division

ALEX FENSOME AND EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013

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Vacancies are popping up in the troubled compliance division of Environment Southland as work continues to fix its problems.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said yesterday there were several vacancies in the compliance division but said she had no further details.

The situations vacant section of Saturday's Southland Timesadvertises for a compliance manager, to replace the departed Mark Hunter, and a senior compliance officer, to replace Simon Mapp, who has accepted a position with Emergency Management Southland.

Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips, when contacted last week about under-fire compliance officer Chris McMillan's employment status, said he would not be speaking about an individual staff member.

But he said changes were being made to address problems identified in an independent audit of Environment Southland's compliance division last year.

The audit identified several problems relating to poor processes and procedures, which Mr Phillips conceded were unacceptable. The audit was ordered by the regional council following Southland Times articles highlighting complaints from members of the public about the behaviour and actions of the council and its staff, specifically Mr McMillan.

Mr Phillips said he had adopted all the recommendations of the audit and changes were being made progressively. "Making these changes is a priority for me and is underway now . . . by the time we've finished, our compliance team will be following national best practice in all inspections and enforcement activity."

He said he had written to consent holders to let them know the work was underway and had asked for their co-operation as the compliance officers went about their normal work duties of inspections, monitoring and investigations.

"We expect that consent holders will comply fully with the conditions of their resource consents, and in turn they can expect to have a fair and professional response in dealings with my staff," Mr Phillips said.

A business improvement programme was also under way and would soon be finished, he said.

The programme would ensure the compliance division focused on work that supported the council's priorities, including improving water quality across the region in the most efficient and effective way.

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- The Southland Times

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