5 Jul 2013

Councillors vote for help over consents

5:19 am on 5 July 2013

The Government says a Crown manager will be in place at Christchurch City Council by 15 July to help sort out its building consents crisis and remain until December 2014 at the latest.

Local Government Minister Chris Tremain says he hopes the council would have its building consent accreditation reinstated by then.

From left, mayor Bob Parker with government ministers Maurice Williamson and Chris Tremain.

From left, mayor Bob Parker with government ministers Maurice Williamson and Chris Tremain. Photo: RNZ

The council will lose its building consents accreditation on 8 July after an International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) report said it granted consents that are potentially dangerous.

On Wednesday, mayor Bob Parker said he wasn't told about the severity of the building consent problem until Tuesday and has laid the blame with council chief executive Tony Marryatt, who has been put on leave.

An extraordinary meeting of the council on Thursday voted unanimously to ask that a Crown manager be installed to oversee the consent department and questions were raised over the quality of the leadership of the council.

Councillor Glenn Livingstone said all shortcomings in governance and management must be exposed, while councillor Tim Carter said it is not just the building processes that need to be examined.

"We also have to look not just at management, but also at the governance of this city and how the leadership around this table has allowed this to happen, why it wasn't highlighted through the committee structure. We have no choice, in my mind, but to invite the Crown to come in help us solve this - it's too vitally important," Mr Carter said.

Councillor Helen Broughton said she has had enough. "Any problem that hits the table must come to this governing body. Management can just not sit on issues in future. And I for one have had enough. I am concerned at a senior manager who came here and ... appeared twice with reassuring words that everything was okay."

Earlier, Chris Tremain told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme work has begun to recruit someone and expects to announce them in a week. He said he is not prepared to lay blame for the problems before he knows more and the Crown manager's first role would be to complete a report into the situation.

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore told Morning Report he finds it hard to believe Bob Parker didn't know about the problems until this week, saying Tony Marryatt would have kept him in the loop.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government would order an audit of building consents issued recently to ensure that they are up to required standards.