A Hastings district councillor's company has been prosecuted by his own council and fined $6500 after pleading guilty to constructing a portable building without the required consents, a breach of the Building Act 2004.
Councillor John Roil appeared in the Hastings District Court yesterday as managing director of Cottages NZ, a company which specialises in constructing small portable buildings which are then transported on site.
The court was told the company constructed a building and undertook earthworks for its destination at the Hastings Golf Club, where it would be a new Pro Shop, in time for a national tournament. It was transported to the site despite requests from the council for more information before its consent application could be completed.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said ultimately the company had gone ahead with the work in the hope it would be consented and "people will turn a blind eye".
"This is a clear and flagrant breach, and one that is cynical," he said "This company is no different to any of the other builders in this district."
Judge Bridget Mackintosh imposed a $6500 fine, 90 per cent of which will be paid to the district council, and $350 of solicitor fees.
In her decision, she disagreed with defence counsel Matthew Lawson's request for a discharge without conviction.
"Essentially, the building was taken to the site and at that point did not actually have the building consent," she said. "In the end it was a commercial view made by the company and they now need to live with the consequences."
The issue was not that the building was substandard, but that it had gone ahead without the required consents.
Mr Lawson had argued on Cottages NZ's behalf the information required that held up the consent process was not of major significance and there were known issues within building consenting time frames, Mr Roil's company had only one previous infringement, and Mr Roil had an important role to play within the building industry. They did not dispute the fact it had gone ahead without the required consent.
In a statement, Mr Roil called for an independent audit of the council's building consent division, saying it was time the department was scrutinised.
He said simple building consent applications were taking up to 20 days to process, which had an impact on the local construction sector.
"It takes us less time to construct a building than it takes council to process a consent. In this instance we had a deadline of completing the job in eight weeks ... but we lost a month due to the paperwork and technical issues with council.
"We didn't take the building past the process of an inspection."
The council was processing building consent applications for Christchurch and Central Hawke's Bay when it should be serving its ratepayers first.
"It is great the council can help Christchurch but it must not be at the detriment of our own progress."
Mr Roil said his business had a reputation of being able to deliver on time.
"We do everything to improve our business to the benefit of our customers and we expect the same of the council.
"We've used business mentors to improve our business and I think the council needs to look at something similar to improve the capability and efficiencies of its building consent division."