Managers aware of IANZ letter

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013

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High-ranking Christchurch City Council managers knew about the threat to revoke consenting power, but decided the situation was "being handled".

It was revealed yesterday chief executive Tony Marryatt and democracy and regulatory services general manager Peter Mitchell both knew the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) had given notice on May 30 of its intention to revoke the council's accreditation as a consenting authority.

However, Mayor Bob Parker and councillors were not told.

Neither Marryatt nor Mitchell were available to speak to The Press yesterday, but the council said Marryatt received "verbal" advice from Mitchell about the IANZ letter.

"[Marryatt] had total confidence that the situation was being handled by staff," the statement said.

Issues raised by IANZ include:

The council not meeting the 20-day statutory timeframe for granting consents.

Not completing required competency assessments for staff undertaking a building control function, such as processing inspections.

Information technology system relating to consents considered inadequate.

A council spokeswoman said the council was confident it could resolve the backlog by the end of the month, as well as meeting the statutory timeframe for all new consents.

All required staff would have undertaken competency assessment by June 28 and a new IT system was introduced on May 27.

Three other minor issues had been resolved.

The council signalled its plans to speed up consents more than four weeks ago.

In an email to The Press on May 10, it said a high number of consent applications had been anticipated, but "no-one could have predicted the current record numbers".

A plan had been in place for "some time". This included contracting processing out to other authorities, which was "normal practice" during periods of high demand.

The record consent numbers had created "challenges" for the council, which had "all hands on deck".

Other initiatives included:

Thirteen new temporary building consent administrators to carry out data entry and minimum acceptance checks.

A recruiting campaign for building control officers across New Zealand and overseas.

Six new building consent cadets recruited and trained for the most simple consents.

Seventeen administrative staff diverted to support building operations.

Expanding processing contracts with the Hastings and Wellington councils and Auckland-based Professional Building Consultants and new contracts with Thames-Coromandel and Porirua councils and Auckland-based Compass.

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An action plan will be presented at a special planning committee meeting on June 28.

- The Press

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