ICC building staff give help to Christchurch

Invercargill City Council (ICC) building consent staff are continuing to assist their Christchurch City Council counterparts, despite the Christchurch council being stripped of its right to issue consents and a Crown manager being appointed.

ICC building regulation services manager Simon Tonkin said he offered his staff's help a few weeks ago, when he became aware through the media Christchurch had been told to improve its service or risk losing accreditation as a building consent authority, known as a BCA.

Councils in the South Island often helped each other out, he said.

The offer was accepted and ICC staff were given 41 dwelling consents to process.

So far, 17 consents had been completed to the point where they could be finally signed off by Christchurch staff, he said.

On July 1, in an unprecedented move, International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) revoked the Christchurch City Council's status as a BCA. Crown manager Doug Martin was appointed to oversee the department.

Mr Tonkin said ICC staff would continue to work through the consents they had been given. He had telephoned Christchurch, to see if any further assistance was needed, but had not heard back yet.

He said losing accreditation was a ''huge thing'', and he had never heard of it happening to another council.

''I can't see how they could have let this happen. BCAs get audited every two years and sometimes we are told there are corrective action requests which we must attend to to keep our accreditation. We've had them at this council. If they tell us we need to improve in certain areas, we do it.''

Losing its BCA status has had major ramifications for Christchurch. Its credit rating had dropped, insurers were nervous, council chief executive Tony Marryat has been placed on leave and the council has begun an internal investigation.

Mr Tonkin said he hoped Christchurch would be able to regain its accreditation soon and ''get its ship back in order''.

- allison.rudd@alliedpress.co.nz


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