'Change of culture' at Christchurch council

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:43 21/07/2014
Dr Karleen Edwards
DANIEL TOBIN
'CONFIDENT': Council chief executive Dr Karleen Edwards expects the council will gain accreditation as a building consent authority by the end of the year.

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The Christchurch City Council needs to do more work before it will win back its accreditation to issue building consents, says International Accreditation New Zealand (Ianz).

Ianz has spent the past two weeks auditing the council's building consent authority to see if it meets necessary legal standards to regain the accreditation it lost last July.

Council chief executive Dr Karleen Edwards said initial findings had confirmed some areas where further work needed to be done before accreditation could be granted.

"The things the Ianz team identified came as no surprise," Edwards said.

"Most had been identified through our own investigations. I am confident we have the systems and skills in place to address them and gain accreditation as a building consent authority by the end of the year as planned."

Ianz had been positive about the progress the council had made and were impressed with changes that had been implemented.

The council would provide more information about the work it still needed to do once it had reviewed the final Ianz report, which was due in about 10 days, Edwards said.

Ianz stripped the council of its accreditation just over a year ago following the organisation's repeated failure to address concerns the agency had raised about its processes and the length of time it was taking to issue consents.

The crisis led the Government to appoint Crown Manager Doug Martin to oversee the council's consenting operation, and ultimately led to the departure of then council chief executive Tony Marryatt.

Since then the council has spent $10 million on new staff and new technology to try and bring its consenting operation up to the required standard.

Ianz chief executive Dr Llewellyn Richards said the assessment team had noticed a distinct change in culture at the council.

''Since the loss of accreditation last year our team noticed a considerably different atmosphere and energy among staff. There is no question over their dedication."

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