Brownlee moves closer to controlling Christchurch

Last week it was the warning.

This week, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee moves a step closer to taking control of Christchurch City Council.

His hands-on attacks on the council are deflecting attention away from slow EQC processing, residential home repairs and lack of traction of the inner city rebuild.

“In the middle of next week progress will be assessed to consider if greater resource or further intervention is required,” Mr Brownlee warns.

He and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson are installing a team of technical experts from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment “to join” the council’s consenting department and work with council officers to speed the flow of consent approvals.

“The team will have the authority to make changes as required,” Mr Brownlee says.

In a prepared statement, Mr Williamson says “it’s clear council staff want to sort this issue as much as anyone, and they have been encouraged by offers to assist from other consenting bodies throughout the country”.

The move follows last week’s threat, made public by Mr Brownlee, that the council will lose its consenting accreditation.

A letter dated May 30 from International Accreditation New Zealand to Christchurch City Council gives the council until June 28 to improve consenting processes or lose accreditation as a Building Consent Authority.

Mr Brownlee described it as reaching a “crisis point”.

Council staff had not told councillors.

But mayor Bob Parker and chief executive Tony Marryatt tried to downplay the problem, claiming that new systems are in place and the council will comply with requirements.

The lack of rebuild momentum is evident in Christchurch, much of it the fault of EQC and slow processing of insurance claims.

Not does the central city rebuild under Mr Brownlee’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority appear to be making progress.

The city rebuild plan contains many restrictions that local developers find difficult to comply with and national and international developers are reluctant to make big investments while the central city is in its current state.

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

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