Struggling consenting firm offered lifeline
The city council has offered a lifeline to a Christchurch consenting company on the verge of collapse.
Solutions Team was set up earlier this year by former council employees Simon Louttit and Steve McCarthy, with the aim of becoming the South Island's first independent building control authority.
Their plan was to pick up some of the building consent work the council was struggling to process and they believed they had a commitment from the council's director of building control and city rebuild, Peter Sparrow, that work would be sent their way.
"[Sparrow] just said go out and make it happen, employ the staff and we will guarantee the work," Louttit told The Press. yesterday.
He and McCarthy, who was the council's acting building operations manager at the time the organisation was stripped of its accreditation to issue building consents, then spent about $100,000 setting up their company and recruiting staff.
They had hired three people and were on the verge of employing another three when they got a call from the council on Tuesday afternoon telling them their draft contract to supply services was being withdrawn.
"No specific reason was given," Louttit said.
"I think they were concerned we were going to start poaching staff. We have employed one ex-council staff member but he came to us because he was leaving anyway."
Louttit said because of the legislative framework governing building control work, the company could not operate without the co-operation of the council.
Yesterday, after being contacted by The Press about its dealings with Solutions Team, the council called Louttit and indicated it would consider using some of the company's services.
Sparrow said no formal agreement was ever reached with Solutions Team regarding the services it could provide to the council's building control group, although discussions did take place.
When asked why the council decided not to enter into a contract with the company, Sparrow said it needed to be sure systems and assurances were in place before making agreements with outside suppliers.
"In this instance, we did not feel that appropriate systems and assurances were in place at this time," he said.
A contract between the company and the council was still a possibility, Sparrow said.
"The city's rebuild is increasing the demand on the building control group, so we would therefore be happy to discuss the type of services private companies could provide the council. We would have to ensure, however, that any contract with these companies or any individual satisfies [the] council's . . . procurement policies."