Bazley lashes Christchurch City Council

Rachel Young at Stuff reports:

Environment Canterbury boss Dame has launched a blistering attack on the , slamming “staff who tell lies and… a totally incompetent organisation”.

The stinging rebuke prompted a handwritten apology from Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker for the “unacceptable delays” on public transport upgrades.

The city council-ECan relationship has been strained of late, but the criticism is an unprecedented attack from one of New Zealand’s most respected public servants.

It is almost unprecedented. So what lead to it?

Documents obtained by The Press under the Official Information Act show the tension between the two councils over the delivery of transport infrastructure, particularly the city council’s delay in building a bus “superstop” at Northlands mall.

ECan chief executive Bill Bayfield wrote to his city council counterpart Tony Marryatt on December 10 last year saying it was “extremely disappointing” the superstop was not ready for a December 3 deadline.

The city council’s “inadequate provision of infrastructure” was undoing his staff’s work, Bayfield said.

A council staff member replied, accepting responsibility for the Northlands problems, saying: “Rather than offer excuses, I can confirm that the new infrastructure will be in place in Northlands by the end of February 2013.”

When this deadline was also missed, Dame Margaret weighed into the debate: “I have monitored the performance of the Christchurch City Council on the provision of these facilities… and have built up a picture of staff who tell lies, and of a totally incompetent organisation,” she wrote to Parker on April 16.

“Our staff have at all times worked collaboratively with your officers and have been given assurances that everything was in order, and progress was on track, when this was obviously not true.”

It was a “sad reflection on our supposed partnership” that even building a bus stop on time seemed beyond the city council, she said, and asked Parker to intervene.

There is a pattern here. Recall also the abysmal failure on the Council in regards to fixing its own housing stock.

What should scare people is that one particular party has spent several years claiming that the major problem in Christchurch is that the Council doesn’t have authority, and they should be in charge of more stuff, and CERA less stuff.

Can you imagine how bad things would be, if they had their way.

To be fair to the Council, they just simply are not resourced to cope with a crisis of this magnitude. But the fact they seem to be struggling with even basic stuff such as infrastructure for a bus stop is damning.

Parker told The Press a staff member in charge of the superstop project had led them to believe everything was on track. However, when the employee left the council, their replacement discovered the problems.

Yep, but there should be systems to check.

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