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Residents accuse Council of flouting level 4 rules

Council say heightened health and safety protocols have delayed the entrance’s completion, so construction will continue in coming weeks. Photo, supplied.

Elizabeth Street residents have expressed their anger towards the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for continuing construction on Regional House during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Construction on the building’s front entrance, on Elizabeth Street, restarted on Monday.

BOPRC corporate general manager Mat Taylor says regional council remains fully operational, as they continue to directly deliver and co-ordinate essential services including flood protection, public transport and testing drinking water.

“If we need to rapidly upscale our essential service delivery, or if our remote technology and communications systems are compromised, it’s likely that a large number of our staff would need to relocate to Regional House,” says Mat.

“The limited construction work being completed is necessary to allow for safe entry, exit and physical distancing if large numbers of staff need to deliver essential services from the building. In normal operational circumstances, up to 200 staff would be located there.”

Mat says the current alternative entry points are not designed to be used for an extended period, and don’t allow for 2m social distancing.

“The front entrance is not being completed to enable public access, so any visual and aesthetic features that are not required by the building code will be left unfinished until after the national restrictions are lifted.”

One resident says visual aesthetic work is already happening.

“Putting up cedar cladding just to doll the thing up is not essential.

“Their work has included laying cobble stones, erecting cedar cladding and commissioning the front entrance door under the guise ‘it’s needed for emergency response teams,’ when in fact, the inhabitants of the half vacant building have been using alternative entrances for months.”

Another resident, whose apartment has full view of Regional House, says there have been up to nine contract businesses onsite every day since Monday.

“I continually see contractors break the 2m distance rule, and I never see them wear masks. It makes me so upset to think of them returning home to their bubbles, when any of them could be carriers.

“They are making a mockery of everything Jacinda Ardern is trying to achieve to keep us safe.”

Mat says on-site contractors are being monitored.

While the lockdown brings quiet to many public spaces, Elizabeth Street residents are woken by construction workers before 7am. Photo, supplied.

“This happens on an on-going basis and they’re regularly assessed to ensure safe working procedures are followed.”

Multiple residents reported council to 105. Following multiple complaints, a sign stating the construction is essential was put up, allegedly after police suggestion.

While residents understand that the council aren’t breaking the rules on paper, they say they are “arrogantly dismissing” what the lockdown is trying to achieve.

“Every day I see almost ten people taking photos of what they are doing in disgust,” says a resident.

“The council should be setting an example, but instead they are sending the exact opposite message to the general public. This is wrong.”

For more information on essential services in the construction sector, visit: https://www.building.govt.nz/covid-19/

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6 Comments
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Narks

Posted on 13-04-2020 06:54 | By

Come on people. This is petty behaviour. I am no council fan but I am sure this was carefully thought out. We are in danger of turning into a country of Narks. Get a life - the sun will come up tomorrow.

Pamma

Posted on 12-04-2020 20:53 | By

Noticed every time I pass on my walk around block, and commented on by many other (suitably distanced ) CBD residents doing their daily exercise.

A thankyou

Posted on 12-04-2020 15:33 | By SonnyJim

I suggest the workers be thanked for volunteering their time to get this job done. They can start work early and begin using jack-hammers at 7:30am if need be. Under more usual circumstances, neighbours say "Hi", and generally drop off hot scones at 10:00am. They certainly would not be there unless there was a civic need, so kindly don’t knock their sense of commitment in these trying times.

It's important...

Posted on 12-04-2020 13:05 | By morepork

...for a Council to lead by example and to also be sympathetic to public expressions of issues. No-one needs or wants to have work started before 0700, whether it is legal or not. If you just dismiss people’s objections "because you can" you are simply being arrogant. It IS important for people who still have a job to be able to work, but not to the detriment of everybody else, and it is really important to make sure that they are observing the same physical distance rules that all the rest of us have to. Sadly, we are not seeing any sign of some badly-needed leadership here. When people are not accountable, they have no reason to behave properly. That’s when character comes through...

I suggest

Posted on 12-04-2020 11:56 | By nerak

residents check whether work started before 7 am is actually allowed.

Carcass

Posted on 12-04-2020 10:46 | By Carcass

What more would you expect from a Council.Common sense is in short supply