Council staff 'hurt' by Brownlee's comments
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee ''got the wrong end of the stick'' when complaining about the Christchurch City Council's consenting process, council staff say.
On a bus trip arranged by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority this month, Brownlee told the media that a new McDonald's franchise near Christchurch International Airport had failed to open as scheduled because the council had not signed off the final planning consents in time.
''Unfortunately, a fairly consistent problem in Canterbury,'' he said.
Council consents staff hit back at a media briefing yesterday.
Council buildings operation manager Ethan Stetson said the restaurant could not open on time because it had failed its final inspection through issues with the building's sprinklers and exit doors.
The council could not allow the building to open until the problems had been resolved, he said.
''We've got a choice to make. Should we say to McDonald's, 'You're good people, just open up and worry about your code compliance certificate later'? ''It doesn't work like that.''
While council staff had managed to approve the final consents quickly after the problems were addressed, Stetson said, some had been ''hurt a little bit'' by Brownlee's remarks.
''Someone got the wrong end of the stick there and passed it on. Should they have known better? It is a complex and difficult subject.''
He would not criticise Brownlee directly for the error, intead blaming whoever passed the information on.
''Whoever it was might have taken the time to be just a little more informed, but I wouldn't put that on to the minister directly.''
Stetson said consents staff ''fully accepted'' Brownlee's general concerns about their work and were determined to improve their performance for the city's rebuild.
''We take it as a challenge. 'Improve it'. OK, we will, thank you; we are, thank you,'' he said.
A spokesman for Brownlee said the minister was unavailable for comment this morning because of other engagements.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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