Parker-Marryatt duo under spotlight as Brownlee waves hot poker

Christchurch council staff kept councillors in dark over consents failure.

Christchurch City Councillors were kept in the dark by staff for two weeks about a letter threatening to take away building consent authority.

The failure to tell councillors once again throws the spotlight on the alliance of mayor Bob Parker and his controversial chief executive, Tony Marryatt.

Even the chairwoman of the planning committee Sue Wells, a Parker acolyte, was not told.

Messrs Parker and Marryatt have steered the council through a series of unusual decisions involving ratepayer money, beginning with the $18 million purchase of five properties in 2008 from bankrupt developer Dave Henderson.

Earlier this year Mr Marryatt gave staff one day’s paid leave per month for this year, claiming it made them more productive.

Mr Marryatt is currently embroiled in a dispute over his role as chief executive and chairman of Civic Assurance. The city is facing a significant funding shortfall as a result of under insurance.

Some councillors opposed to the reigning pair are asking how Mr Marryatt can fulfill his role as chief executive in seeking a high insurance payout while his role as Civic director charges him with minimising payouts.

Civic is in arbitration with its reinsurers which are refusing to pay the amount claimed for the former AMI Stadium and other infrastructure.

The threat that the council will lose its consenting accreditation was made public yesterday by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Minister Gerry Brownlee.

The 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.

Council staff have failed to process consents in statutory time frames – one of the reasons the government used for sacking Environment Canterbury councillors in 2010. “This is to say the very least alarming and, in the circumstances of the massive rebuild we face in Christchurch, a crisis point,” Mr Brownlee says.

Mr Parker claims new systems are in place and the council will comply with requirements.

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

The lack of rebuild was also evident in Real Estate Institute figures published yesterday which showed that the number of house sales in Christchurch was actually 1% below May 2012.

The city has lost at least 7500 red-zoned homes and some estimates place the number of houses to be demolished as high as 15,000.

In other centres, notably Auckland, prices and sales volumes of houses hit a six-year record in May.