If the council doesn’t lift its performance it will lose its accreditation as the City’s Building Consent Authority. The City is writhing yet again under the threat of having to step aside while the Government threatens to take control with yet another take-over. Government says it “would step in to protect the consents process”. Reading between the lines is this the beginning of something reminiscent to earlier banishments e.g. ECAN.
This is a reminder of earlier times, a year ago when Lianne Dalziel stated that “It is the last remaining vestige of local democracy and it is about to be discarded in favour of a ham-fisted response from the earthquake tsar,” referring to the Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee. At that time Mayor Bob Parker warned against any attempt to take the city council out of the planning process and stated that it would be tantamount to a takeover of the entire organisation. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6696928/Govt-poised-to-seize-control-of-Christchurch-rebuild-Dalziel). Yet here we go again, history repeating itself, déjà vu. Once again the Government is out for full control of the City. This is its opportunity.
Meanwhile Mayor Bob Parker insists that the Council is in control of a ‘timely consenting process in the City’, acknowledges that there is a ‘back log of older consents’, but reiterates that ‘we’re on track’, and that indeed ‘it is a bureaucratic process’, but insists that the Earthquake Recovery Minister’s response in ‘something of a huge over reaction’, and ‘doesn’t seem to relate to the process we’re in’. (See http://www.3news.co.nz/Brownlee-Parker-at-odds-over-consents/tabid/309/articleID/301293/Default.aspx and http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/8356926/Council-rules-out-asset-sales. The Earthquake Minister is quite content to criticise Council for delays but is totally deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to the absolute failures of EQC – for which HE is responsible.
So what could the National Government’s motivations for control be?
Here are a few suggestions:
• If the issue gets serious enough – no council elections- thereby ensuring no further opposition to the Government’s plans
• No opposition to the wholesale selling off of the City’s assets – currently the Council is holding firm because that’s what Cantabrians want- they want to keep their assets (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/7383710/Christchurch-council-asset-sales-on-the-cards ; http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/6961569/Parker-rejects-sale-of-assets ; http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/8356926/Council-rules-out-asset-sales);
• Total control of the consenting process – enabling the Government to water down the consumer protection in the Building Act 2004 with the introduction of more ‘Guidelines’ – which enable insurers and contractors to carry out cheaper repairs at the expense of equity in people’s homes; and protect the interests of the major developers in the City http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/8799210/Stalled-consents-vex-developers;
• More opportunity to build what they choose and reject what they don’t want, for whatever reason;
• Total removal of an elected forum for the people’s voice, enabling the Government and its cronies to build whatever they so choose in the Central Business District and making it easier for the compulsory acquisition of central city land;
• A weakened consent process to avoid Local Authority/Government liability of last resort and pass this liability to the people;
• CERA would most likely become the executive body as it is already an in-situ ‘Government department’.
What would the outcome be?
• Canterbury and the Council would lose its asset companies, such as the Airport and the future earnings associated with those assets;
• Rates would increase markedly;
• Cantabrians would lose even more of what is already a very compromised democratic community and have even less voice;
• Corporate interests would continue to take as much as they can from the population;
• and prices would rise for services provided by the (sold-off) asset companies.
Cantabrians- if it emerges that this is what they intend, (and it may well be) – there needs to be the largest demonstration this City has ever witnessed – so let’s pay particular attention to this issue! Conspiracy theory perhaps then yet again perhaps not!
~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.
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