Thursday, 2 June 2011

GUEST POST: “Sorry about the sewage, we are too busy gardening in the Red Zone!”

I’m sure if you caught the news from Christchurch this morning you felt as I did.

While owners of central Christchurch property are being ordered by the government’s bureaucrats at CERA to cough up demolition plans for buildings they are aren't even allowed to visit, supposedly because it’s too risky for them, council gardeners are allowed in to central Christchurch to plant flowers—presumably to make wreaths to plant around the  businesses the council has killed.

In this Guest Post, Christchurch businessman Hugh Pavletich gives voice to some of the anger felt around the city:

“Sorry about the sewage, we are too busy gardening in the Red Zone!”
by Hugh Pavletich

Take a look at these:

    Gardening in red zone - The Press
    Gardening in Red Zone infuriates business owners - TVNZ
    Anger at red zone gardening - Newstalk ZB


    Grass in house no grounds for rates relief - The Press
    Battle grows to reopen Dux - The Press

While the Christchurch City Council was insolent, incompetent and obstructionist following the 4 September 2010 earthquake, things are now even worse after the 22 February 2011 event. Another layer of bureaucrats  has kicked in with in the newly formed Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (one with neither development nor engineering expertise). It would appear the Council has pretty much “kicked the can” to CERA, this new body, and is taking an even more relaxed approach to life—even as it enforces that same relaxation on the city’s business owners, who it still largely prohibits from accessing their own buildings.

These photos  below and reports ;linked above show 6 Council City Care workers tending a garden in the Christchurch’s CBD Red Zone, from which public and business and property owners, excluded. They are surreal.

That’s a lot of workers to weed one garden of course......but hey......that’s another story (see my “Christchurch: A Bureaucratically Buggered City,” from which the important Council hyperlinks have already been disabled – why?)

Obviously Mayor Bob Parker, CEO Tony Marryatt and the “management” think weeding plant beds in an area that is vacated is more important than employing these staff replacing the destroyed and mostly obsolete  sewage infrastructure in the east.

But, hey, at least they’re visible! Quite where all the grossly overstaffed 1,300 administrative / regulatory people usually located at the redeveloped Civic Offices are is something of a mystery.

These Civic Offices, the council’s brand-new “not fit for purpose” redeveloped and excessively expensive “green” building was “knocked out” for two months following the first earthquake event (at an estimated cost of rebuilding of $5 million, excluding much larger disruption costs)  – and for some four months following the 22 February event (est. cost or re-repair $10 million, again excluding disruption costs). It will not be reoccupied until the end of June. [And for the design of this “fit for purpose” building, the architect Ian Athfield has been reward with the job of Christchurch’s architectural czar. Cool, eh. – Ed.]

clip_image001So where are they all and what are they up to? No doubt some Council staff are scattered around suburban service centres and libraries. Where are the rest? What are they doing?

This illustrates one reason the Council has insufficient money to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to the community it is supposed to serve.

It is past time to move from the current failed and bloated centralised model, to the "One City - Many Communities" one, in which elected community representatives and ratepayers might better monitor these guys.

There are two types of local government in this world – the small and the bad.

Christchurch can and will recover from these continuing  earthquake events and become an “opportunity city,” once we figure out how to get acceptable performance from our elected representatives’ and the public bureaucracies we pay excessively to serve us—and how to get them off our backs.

Hugh Pavletich


1 comment:

  1. Calm down Hugh, all will be fixed. Another red zone disaster tourist, the Dalai Lama, will be here soon to calm your prioritisation fears.

    Obviously the Glenfield Tart was not enough...


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