Call to join in authority audit

By Nicki Harper

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Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler.
Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler.

Anyone who has had issues with the CHB District Council Building Consent Authority is urged to take up the opportunity to be included in an audit of the department before a deadline of Friday, April 15.

The Building Consent Authority review committee met again on Tuesday this week to set a cut-off date for letters to be sent to auditor Morrison Low for review, and to look over the terms of reference for the audit of the department that's come under fire over the past six months.

Late last year CHB mayor Peter Butler sent letters to about 60 tradespeople asking for feedback about their dealings with the department, and received about 50 replies, with 30 of those agreeing to take part in the audit.

At this week's meeting, councillor and committee member Andrew Watts, who said he was now in possession of an additional 88 letters from people both within and outside the district, suggested anyone, not just tradespeople, should have a chance to have their say in the audit.

His comments followed discussion of how long the process would take, depending on the number of people Morrison Low would interview, and the cost to the council.

"I have letters from architects and designers who are charging the CHB factor, which can be an additional $3000 to $20,000, to put a consent through CHB, something they are not doing with other authorities," Mr Watts said.

"The cost to get the right answer for this shouldn't be a factor.

"A lot of letters that have come to me are from ratepayers who have spent money on consents - not just builders - it would be good to reach those people, as they are no less important."

There was also discussion over the confidentiality of the letters and the importance of assuring people any complaints would not be seen by building department staff.

Committee member and deputy mayor Ian Sharp said there were worries that the submitters would be vetted as to who would be included in the audit, and concerns over who would see their letters.

"People are very wary about their personal grievances being shared with those people their grievance is with."

Chief executive John Freeman said the staff would not see any of the correspondence.

Mr Butler said Morrison Low would receive all the letters where people had given permission to be included.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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