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Process outlined will be an update and explanation, not a review

Opinion Piece

Mayor Meng Foon has bent to the political wind in enacting what he calls a review of the council decision to go ahead with an $11 million rebuild of its administration centre.

However the process seems designed to explain the decision rather than review it. In fact, a council-led effort already under way to respond to a number of issues raised appears to have been labelled a review and possibly extended by two weeks.

The Herald understood last week that the Mayor, finance committee chairman Brian Wilson and building owner and developer, council-controlled Gisborne Holdings Ltd would respond this week to the concerns. Council officers were also preparing information to go on their website this week, including a timeline and decisions, a fact sheet and access to all documents.

The Oxford dictionary definition of review is: A formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary.

An independent authority would be needed to actually review the decisions involved. On the other hand, this is late in the process with tight timelines around the council’s commitment to temporary accommodation.

Tony Robinson has thrown a cat among among the pigeons with his questioning of the process and the information councillors have relied on to make their decisions. He deserves credit for that.

The key concerns are around the necessity of a rebuild when only one of six buildings, the 2001 two-storey block (admittedly 1800m2 of a 4100m2 total) is definitely earthquake prone; the fact the 1950s building has yet to be properly assessed; a lack of information on strengthening options; and the desire for an administration centre built or strengthened to code at IL4 when only its Civil Defence HQ is required by legislation to be IL4 (which it is, >80 percent NBS).

The council has a good case for the total rebuild, even considering the substantial questions raised. Delaying its official response until the January 28 meeting would only extend the vacuum where the public awaits its rebuttal. Calling it a review is a nonsense.