Archives for posts with tag: consents

The fallout from the council consenting crisis continues, and looks like it will have repercussions for a number of managers.

Among those whose positions are set to be axed is executive team member Peter Mitchell, who was the regulatory and democracy services general manager when the consenting crisis unfolded.

Great! Justice for those who were responsible for this mess. Oh, wait…

He has taken up a new role as a principal adviser to the council’s chief executive to make way for a new general manager of building control and rebuild.

So one of the most senior managers, who was involved in a systemic fuck-up at council loses his job, but they will find another one for him in council. Presumably on the same (high) salary band. I don’t know how close Mitchell was to the consents debacle, as I don’t think anyone outside a core of a few people at council really know the truth at this point. However, part of his role as the Orwellian-titled “regulatory and democracy services general manager” seemed to be to manage the democratically-elected council by keeping them at arms length from the executive.

Meanwhile, 20 less-senior employees will take the rap for these guys. It will be interesting to see what Lianne and the new council do to change this bizarre corporate culture that has permeated council; men (and they’re mainly men) who are paid large salaries to do a job, and when they fail at them, somehow get shifted into another role.


So Tony Marryatt is on full pay whilst his role is being investigated. Around $1475 a day to play golf. Not only that, but Doug Martin, the man who is covering for him, will get paid $2000 a day. We are told that this is a “significant discount“. You can add another $2000-$2500 to that – the amount that Peter Winder is getting to run the investigation into the consenting crisis. 

By my rough calculations, that’s almost $6000 a day for one man (and the two men who we’ve had to bring in to tidy up after him).

This is pretty much all I have to say about the consenting clusterfuck playing out at the Christchurch City Council right now

In case you didn’t know, I also have a fortnightly post over at The Daily Blog, where I take a slightly broader view to try and explain the situation down here to an audience from across the country. My latest post looks at the consenting issue. Hopefully I’ll be back later in the day to cover Brownlee’s war on culture.

The council’s building consent issues have festered over the weekend, with comment from all comers. The Prime Minister waded into it, suggesting an intimate knowledge of Tony Marryatt’s inbox (PRISM?) Then Mike Hosking – always a font of knowledge – suggests that Wellington should be in charge in Christchurch, and that democracy isn’t a big deal. A Dictatorship of the Perfecteriat, if you will.

But politics aside for a moment, there is an ideological battle going on here. As Gerry says:

”We don’t want to see anything slow down – we want to see it go much faster, so we are going to have to get involved. It’s as simple as that.”

In the house on Thursday, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson was questioned by Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson.

the whole aim of the Government is to make sure that consents are done properly and they are done without devaluing quality, but that they are done in a timely manner. I heard on Morning Report this morning that a particular Mark McGuinness from the Belgian Beer Cafe Torenhof took 89 days to get a consent through the council, and it was costing him $70,000 a week for that delay.

Now, most people would agree that getting things done quickly is desirable, but speed can’t come at the expense of quality. The Belgian Beer Cafe has come up a number of times in this debate. Is it bad? Yes. Should it have been done quicker? Most probably. Do we have any idea why it took so long? Somewhat. In terms of consent processing, is 89 days an outlier? I don’t know. Is it going to get quoted over and over again? Undoubtedly.

While this flared up as Gerry versus the council, I think that this issue of regulators versus red tape cutters is more important. If you take the consenting process off of the council, and establish a new, government-run body tasked with getting them processed in the shortest time possible, then you have taken away the last external check on building safety, the last step at which a plan can be challenged. Have we already forgotten what happens when the red-tape cutting ideologues take control of the building industry? Does cutting a week out of the consenting process mean we have to live with buildings designed by people who lied about their credentials?

If there is anything that we should have learnt from the disasters to hit the South Island in the last few years, it’s that we put red tape there for a reason: to reduce the risk of loss of life and injury when things go wrong, and to try and limit the financial damage to families and communities incurred in such situations.

From the Press:

The communication breakdown comes on the back of a damning audit last year, after which Marryatt pledged to improve the information flow to elected members. A “no surprises” policy was also implemented.

If a letter threatening to remove the councils’ ability to issue building consents – probably it’s single most important role in the rebuild – wasn’t considered a surprise, I shudder to think where the threshold is.