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Bella Vista: Mayor admits ‘ball was dropped’

The demonlition of some of the Bella Vista homes. Photo: Sharnae Hope.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless is vowing to hold to account those responsible for the botch-up at the failed Bella Vista housing development.

Twenty one homes were eventually declared dangerous or not up to scratch and had to be abandoned.

The council failed to follow its own rules including allowing construction to go ahead after earlier, failed inspections had not been fully resolved.

The report stated that staff just below senior management found the most significant reason for the failure was having one inspector deal with the developer.

That inspector had a conflict of interest because he also had a house being built by Bella Vista at the time.

This was known by the council well before he was appointed.

Also some staff felt like they were not able to escalate concerns because all the decision-making was being done by one person.

Greg admitted they dropped the ball.

But he says the council is conducting its own employment investigation and things will change.

"We have an employment process now and we've had a number of changes in staff and the organisation and I'm pretty confident that there's no chance of it happening again."

He would not say how many staff were being scrutinised.

"By the end of the process, it will be my expectation that those who have had involvement in the poor performance should be held to account and I've asked my chief executive to look into that."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has ordered the council to make nine changes - including improving the handling of conflicts of interest and vetting building consent applications.

Spokesperson Paul Hobbs says houses in Tauranga are also being built on slopes and hills - like Bella Vista - and that makes engineering more difficult.

He says other councils need to heed that.

"If you're having to deal with sites that are unfamiliar and doing a lot more excavation then there's an increase in the risk so I think it's just monitoring those sorts of things," he said.

The Tauranga City Council now has two months to show the ministry its updated procedures.

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Council's Internal Inquiry

Posted on 01-04-2019 14:44 | By

Chief Exec (Marty Grenfell) stated that publication of the results of the Council’s inquiry is unlikley to be published in full "because of the likelihood of legal issues." Sounds like it will allow the Council to conceal from the public what it likes. Were the Terms of Reference for the Council’s inquiry ever published?

So where does the buck stop?

Posted on 29-03-2019 14:26 | By earlybird

So, finally council has admitted that they stuffed up. We knew that ages ago but only now does the long awaited admission become public. So now the next step in the ongoing saga is that council are planning to take legal action against the builder/developer. How can that possibly be successful when council had 100% control over the planning and building processes from scratch. They should have prevented this from happening. Are we now going to see even more ratepayers money squandered on dodgy legal action. The council lawyers must be rubbing their hands in glee. Such a cash cow is a rare find. So, can we expect the elected members to reimburse us ratepayers out of their own pockets if this legal action fails? That is the question.

Finally

Posted on 29-03-2019 08:34 | By earlybird

We’ve waited far too long for this admission from the Mayor. Meanwhile some councillors are branding those of us that seek the truth as "haters". This sort of nonsense must NEVER happen again.

At last

Posted on 29-03-2019 08:23 | By Told you

We dropped the ball is a gross understatement of fact.Most of the staff involved in this shambles have left so having to fire anybody didn’t need to happen.A big finger should be poked at the former CEO Poole for gross incompetence in this matter, his job was to overseer all staff appointments and monitor their performance which in the case of BV was not done,and the second person who should have acted sooner was our Mayor,who completely loss the plot over this and I hope for all Tauranga won’t dare stand for re-election in October.

Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors EQUALLY responsible

Posted on 29-03-2019 07:57 | By Murray.Guy

Mayor Brownless, Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout and Councillors EQUALLY responsible for this travesty. Over recent years the Governance has made a number od SIGNIFICANT policy shifts which has seen their monitoring of operational activities reduce and the staff numbers and delegations doubled. Just as ’dog behaviour reflects their owner, children’s behaviour and outcomes REFLECT the parents’, so do the staff of Tauranga City Council reflect the Governance. The arrogance and lack of accountability of staff clearly is demonstrated by the Mayor and Councillors, only last week describing residents with concerns and opposing views as ’HATERS’ , not to waste time and money on responding to (Cr Steve Morris). Mr Mayor, Councillors, LOOK IN A MIRROR if you are genuine, really want to know who should be held to account! You have collectively undermined our democracy, destroyed lives and property, cost ratepayers many $millions.

Doesn't it start with him?

Posted on 29-03-2019 07:43 | By tish

The man at the top? And all those he finds to be "responsible for the botch-up", will they be paying back everthing this in the end costs the ratepayer?

Transparency

Posted on 29-03-2019 07:39 | By

Who knew about the conflict of interest and let that pass? They are accountable and should go. I suspect it is a sizeable list and includes senior management and Councillors.

It includes you Greg

Posted on 29-03-2019 07:28 | By

MBIE said processes and procedures were inadequate. That’s bad governance = Councillors responsibility. No different to Mainzeal and Jenny Shipley et al. They are stumping up money for their failings as Directors. Councillors should be footing the bill for this personally - not me.