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Bob Parker is gone …

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, July 6th, 2013 - 41 comments
Categories: accountability, local government, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

bob parker clown

Bob Parker announced last night that he is not going to seek re-election to Christchurch’s Mayoralty.

At one level this is not surprising.  Christchurch’s Building Consent problems were a smoldering mess of an issue that kept getting worse and worse.  John Key and the Government thought for a long time that the problem was that consents were not getting processed quickly enough.  Even last month the emphasis was on the speed of consent processing.  Then suddenly the problem was that consents were being granted even though they may not meet the building code.  The last thing that Christchurch needs is doubt about the quality of its new buildings.

Things are that dire that Christchurch has lost its insurance cover for building consents, effective from July 1.  There is also talk that new buildings may have to be demolished.

This shows that Christchurch City Council’s governance is deeply, deeply flawed.  It appears that Councillors only understood the full extent of the problem recently.

What I cannot work out is why Parker or Brownlee did not pick up on this earlier.  It is not as if it was a subtle thing, the Council was issuing consents that may have been fundamentally flawed.  The first IANZ report issued last September should have rang alarm bells and added flashing red lights with bright neon spelling “warning”.

The main beneficiary of this will be Lianne Dalziel.  I cannot imagine a better person to be the next Mayor for Christchurch at a time where leadership needs to be skilled and passionate and the Council needs a complete reorganisation from the ground up.

41 comments on “Bob Parker is gone … ”

  1. karol 1

    Good to get such excellent analysis of local governance issues, micky.

    Ultimately, it looks like the buck stops with Gerry.

    Parker must feel he and his council are being made to unfairly shoulder all the responsibility, when it looks like blame should be shared with the government..

    Let’s hope Dalziel can step up and show the needed local leadership.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks Karol but I obviously need a bit of help with the front page header stuff …

      • karol 1.1.1

        There should be a separate little box to add the front page blurb, underneath the main box where you type the post: called “Ultimate Tinymouse Excerpt”. If it’s not there, click on screen options at the top of the page – brings up the menu, including UTE. Default takes the beginning of the post.

        In the little box, you can type in something different.

      • Rogue Trooper 1.1.2

        …not with the illustrations though. 😀

    • David H 1.2

      But Gerry will wobble and wobble until the shit just falls on someone else. You watch I give it 2 weeks, and the NATS will be like a bunch of slavering hounds over a bit of meat and the meat will be named Parker. Because the blame can never fall on the Nats.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1


        Yep, it could never be that the fault lies with Brownlee and his demand for faster processing of consents.

    • Rogue Trooper 1.3

      some of the ‘buck’ should be taken out of Tremain’s hide.

    • Jimmie 1.4

      Yeah right. And if Brownlee had stepped in 6 or 12 months ago and appointed a crown manager over the council we would have weeping and wailing that the Nats were attacking local democracy. (Cue ECON)

      You basically have to face it that Parker and his inept CEO pretended that everything was hunky dory for too long until the facts caught up with them.

      Now they have been shuffled aside so that proper consent processes can be put in place to deal with all the building consent backlogs.

      Trying to smear the government unnecessarily just makes you look one-eyed.

      • mickysavage 1.4.1


        It appears that last September a Crown Entity spotted major problems with Christchurch’s consenting processes. These were not you are taking too long sorts of problems, they were you are doing it wrong and the buildings you are certifying may not actually be safe sorts of programs. And even a couple of weeks ago the Government was still talking as if the problem was delay rather than quality.

        I thought at the time that intervention was totally inappropriate. Now that I am aware that safety and fitness are involved I believe that intervention is totally appropriate.

        But why did it take Brownlee and Williamson so long to act?

      • McFlock 1.4.2

        well, the nats would have appointed a crony who would (if chch were lucky) have been almost as competent as Parker, so this would still have happened. If not sooner and worse.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    How much effective oversight do elected officials really have over the professional bureaucracy of a City Council? I have serious doubts.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Putting politics to one side it helps to have a diversity of skills and experiences at the Council table. That way advice can be dissected and analyzed. For instance engineering experience is very helpful, accountancy is an important skill and every Council should have a lawyer 😀

      And there needs to be a certain tension between staff and the Councillors. The job of the Council is not to rubber stamp things but to second guess and review.

      Part of the problem I blame on the word processor. Documents are too long, the language too turgid and the meaning and intent far too unclear. And don’t get me started on meetings …

  3. vto 4

    We just had a consent issued that had two building code non-compliances. No matter, as we have built to in excess of the code on those two things anyway, no matter the consent and plans (as most people are doing – over the top construction for most).

    Of course, had we built to the plans and consent, inspectors would have (and did) picked up the matter post-building. Then they wipe their hands of all responsibility and say “fix it, our consent means diddly-squat”. God know why we even have consents such is their lack of rigour and the complete and utter lack of responsibility that Council takes for its consent. It takes none. This is the same for all Councils. Why have consents when they mean nothing?

    As for the staff – I feel for them. They have struggled under all of this and they continue to work with a smile and go out of their way to help at times. Good on them.

    As for Bob, he should have made this obvious decision some months ago. Now at least he will have a deserved place in the city’s history. Good for him.

    And go Dalziel. She is exactly what we need from now on…..

    • tc 4.1

      It’s not just chch, you can find a lot of this in akl to. The Nats building code changes in the 90’s together with trashing apprenticeship schemes has given us decades of shonkey builds that are falling apart now.

      A lot of retiring trades folk I’ve spoken to cant get out quick enough, they can’t get decent staff and the code and council inspectors are a joke as the standard they want to build to is beyond the code as they know what lasts and have that quaint old thing called a pride in their work.

      So you get the punter not understanding the job council want done isn’t necessarily the one you should have done, places the experienced builder in a tough spot.

      • JonL 4.1.1

        As an ex-inspector and builder, a lot of the inspecting staff are aware of what is required and go out of their way to help get to a satisfactory BUILDING solution (that also complies – that is their job, after all). They often aren’t helped by a sector of the authorities (and some inspectors, I must admit) who’s contributions to building integrity, compliance and cost effectiveness would be vastly improved if they were stuck head first down a manhole and concreted in! To a lot, they just get disheartened by seeming to bang their head against a (badly built) Hardietex wall, and chuck it in! Others stay in it, because, like some police, they try and make it work, despite the system. Some experienced builders are also, not as good as they think they are – I’d say 85% are great to work with, the rest……….

  4. Lanthanide 5

    That magazine cover of him really is nightmare fuel.

  5. MrSmith 6

    I laughed out loud when I heard about people having to wait 15 days for building permits when it was taking 3 months for EQC to just reply to emails, my house is still a broken mess after almost 3 long fuckin years. Insurance companies now dragging out the reconstruction so by the time they start there bank accounts will be full to overflowing from all the increased premiums they are now charging all of us, parasites.

    Christchurch needs leadership instead we get Clowns, Parker, Brownlee and Key.

    • Follow-the-money 6.1

      Maybe the GCSB told Key what you think about him, maybe even before you realised it yourself.

  6. Rogue Trooper 7

    some interesting observations ‘of’ Bob Parker :
    (from Campbell Live)
    -“concerned about a ‘dirty election’ ”
    -and “the political nightmare that is the Christchurch rebuild”
    -“so many things are ’emotional’ these days”.

    as an aside- What the ‘right’ want will cost us all; observe the species ‘politician’ in it’s natural habitat.

  7. Daveosaurus 8

    One question I haven’t yet heard any journalists ask, which should really be asked of Brownlee: of the allegedly non-compliant consents, what proportion of the work had been applied for by CERA with the standard “issue it – or else…” menaces?

  8. RedLogix 9

    I wonder what CCC’s own staff would have to say if they could?

    1. We’ve been expected to do 10, 20, 30 or more times more work with totally inadequate resources.

    2. We’ve struggled to attract qualified and capable people on the pay we’re allowed to offer.

    3. Our training budget got frozen.

    4. We’ve had layers of new procedures and auditing dumped on us that have slashed our productivity.

    5. We’ve had layers of management added, all of whom demand this and that from us … but none of whom progress any consents to completion.

    6. We’ve seen our ability to exercise professional judgement and discretion systematically stripped away from us, reducing us to idiot box-tickers.

    7. Everyone knew Marryatt was out of his depth.

    8. We’ve been beleaguered by an overwhelming task, we’ve been working our butts off for three years under huge personal and organisational stress … and somehow we’re still the bad guys. Why do I do this shit?

    • Macro 9.1

      My thoughts entirely! I understand that there was some outsourcing – but even so – these guys were always on a hiding to nothing.

    • mickysavage 9.2

      Agreed RL. My comments are addressed at management rather than the workers themselves. On reflection my comment about “reorganisation from the ground up” should refer to the top echelons of management.

  9. Follow-the-money 10

    I was wondering if the blowtorch is being pointed at Christchurch Council, so that it points away from everyone else. Others seem to hear similar bells ringing.

    Shakespeare couldn’t have written a better plot, if so (ok, it could have been Bacon, but that’s not the point…).

  10. Chooky 11

    Agreed….smells of dead rat somewhere…

    Maybe it is not a question of quality of engineering (and CCC building consents) but geology!..ie “houses built on sand” ..and sinking mud…and rising water tables..Maybe the Nat govt doesnt want to go there …..focus on the real question of geology ….because of implications for Ecan and that ‘can of worms’!!!!….. Just being a naughty conspiracy theorist here….Is it true that irrigation and fracking can sink/flood cities built on deltas ? I think some Canadian academic expert has done some research on this.

    How many buildings in Christchurch are structurally sound but sinking at one end or another or in the middle?….facts and figures?….how many of these are being condemned?.( Town Hall?) …If this is the issue, the CCC workers could be being made scapegoats for an impossible situation… regarding implications of consents and future insurance liabilities.

  11. BrucetheMoose 12

    Brownlee needs to go next. His atrocious handling of EQC and the major issues that continually impact on the city, such as completely ignoring the rental/property crisis, insurance woes and the entire central city rebuild is appalling. His ineptness is astounding beyond belief. Time for new leadership in this arena as well.

  12. mickysavage 13

    For a more detailed and nuanced view of the issues Puddleglum’s analysis should be read.

  13. For saying what needs to be said in far fewer words than I can ever seem to manage, mickysavage’s analysis should be read 🙂

    • mickysavage 14.1

      Flattery will get you everywhere!

    • RedLogix 14.2

      Or to put your wonderful analysis into one sentence PD; Parker finally realised that while he was able to steer his city through the disaster of the earthquake … the disaster that is Brownlee is a whole different matter.

  14. Chooky 15

    Or Parker realised he was part of the problem by recommending/instigating the annexation of Ecan away from Cantabrians’ democratically elected control and headed by responsible scientists and environmentalists balancing farmer irrigation interests…..towards a NatParty governance in the interests of dairying and big irrigation schemes.

  15. Chooky 16

    Hasn’t the new Christchurch Art Gallery, structurally/engineeringly sound, sunk at one end ?

    How many other new, structurally sound buildings are in the same situation….Has a count been done?…or is this issue being swept under the political carpet….and CCC workers being blamed for not delivering on consents( fast enough and then lacking in quality ).

  16. He did a good job, hope he enjoys his time with family, hats off to him.

  17. Sable 18

    I think Bob Parker did the best he could under trying circumstances. Having hapless, disorganised old Gerry Brownlee, flapping around in Christchurch can not have helped.

  18. muzza 19

    Local Governance, Central Governance…

    Same people, same mindset, same team, same outcomes!

    I’m sure the next puppet will be different!

  19. unicus 20

    A corrupt National Party government – a National Party dominated Council – a neo-lib CEO . Fishy ? – this reeks of tory predacity

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