Sunday, May 19, 2024

Hastings Council adopts review recommendations

An independent review of Hastings District Council’s building unit has found that while staff are committed to doing a good job, there are areas where performance can be improved, the Council said today.

The review was requested by Council’s performance and monitoring committee in May last year, and was undertaken in February and March this year by Jim Palmer Consulting, gathering and assessing feedback given by 24 customers and senior council staff.

It was aimed at providing an independent assessment of the unit, which comprises the Building Consent Unit and the Building Recovery and Compliance Unit, and what actions were needed to ensure it was continuously improving.

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst (pictured) said a high performing Building Consent Authority with excellent customer service was imperative.

“We have been through a high growth period over the past three years and, with the extra work that’s resulted from Cyclone Gabrielle, we need a focused, customer-centric, highly responsive building unit to support this activity,” she said.

“We want to have the best service in New Zealand.”

Overall, while some respondents were happy with the service they received around the building inspections process, and considered the building unit professional, there was also valuable feedback on improvements that could be made to consent application processing and customer responsiveness.

In summary, review author Jim Palmer said that while the team worked hard to ensure regulatory compliance with a high degree of technical proficiency, to be a high performer it needed to operate as a business driven by “great service delivery, excellent customer service, operating efficiently and being financially sound.”

Council chief executive, Nigel Bickle welcomed the review and its findings.

“Our teams work hard in a function of council that often struggles to have a full complement of appropriately qualified staff – and Covid and the cyclone response and recovery have added extra pressure,” he said.

“The recommendations contained in the report give us a clear direction on how we can continuously improve in how we deliver for our customers, at the same time as ensuring we fulfil our regulatory responsibilities.”

The review contained 27 recommendations ranked in order of priority to be implemented.

Of highest priority was improving the timeliness of consent processing and improving customer service. This included seeking to process at least 95 per cent of consents within the statutory timeframes – and increasing the frequency of face-to-face meetings with key customers.

Progress on implementing the recommendations will be reported back to the Performance and Monitoring committee, the Council said.

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