Auckland Council has got itself in a helluva mess over botched building consents after it misinterpreted its own confusing rules. The consents relate to building alterations in “character” suburbs such as Ponsonby and Devonport and will probably have to be applied for again, at huge inconvenience to the home owners and expense to the ratepayers, since the council will meet the costs and may have to pay compensation as well.
Radio New Zealand interviewed a planning lawyer who said the cockup showed how complicated the council’s planning rules were. It all seemed wearisomely familiar, but that wasn’t the only reason the Radio NZ news item sounded a bit Groundhog Day-ish. They also interviewed the council’s resource consents general manager, who turned out to be an Englishman.
Am I the only one who’s struck by the number of bureaucrats in local and central government who speak with a Pommy accent? If I was less lazy and more methodical, I would keep a record of the number of times they pop up in the TV and radio news.
I don’t want to be dragged before the Human Rights Commission and accused of racism (I actually like most Poms), but it seems to me that a quite disproportionate number of the officials who enforce nitpicking rules and regulations in New Zealand are English. Is it because they’re gifted managers, or is it that they’re naturally officious and attracted to jobs that involve telling other people what to do? Cases like the Auckland Council consents row suggest it’s unlikely to be the former.