Councils stick to agreement

By Lawrence Gullery

Hastings District Council will continue to help Christchurch work through its backlog of building consents but insists it won't have a detrimental impact on its work locally.

Hastings had five staff processing consents in the district and two working on consents for Christchurch. The arrangement between the two councils was made about 18 months ago when Hastings experienced a lull in building activity while Christchurch was frantically recruiting staff following the earthquake.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the Christchurch council was offering wages "20 per cent higher than us" in order to attract additional building consent staff.

"They also had the problem of finding places for these new people to live. At that time we didn't have a lot of consent work because we were in the middle of a recession, so we reached an agreement with Christchurch City Council.

"We've had staff process consents on the cloud (internet), so they can stay in Hastings. That has been running to this day and we are charging for the work and doing okay out of it."

International Accreditation New Zealand informed Christchurch City Council last week, its building consent accreditation would be revoked after it failed to meet requirements.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the council "can and must" continue issuing building consents.

Mr Yule said it was unlikely the Hastings council could supply more than the two staff it had already working on consents for Christchurch.

"We can only do as much as work as we can. The work in Hastings comes first."

The council's planning and regulatory group manager John O'Shaughnessy said contracting to Christchurch had enabled the Hastings council to retain skilled building staff, maintain income levels and avoid redundancies.

"... and ensure those skilled staff will be available to the local industry to process consents when the economy picks up."

The Government appointed advisor Douglas Martin as the Crown manager to oversee Christchurch City Council's building consents.

Mr O'Shaughnessy said the Hastings council would speak with Mr Martin next week, to review its work with Christchurch.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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