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Council “extremely disappointed” by prosecution

8 February 2005

City Council “extremely disappointed” by ECan prosecution

Christchurch City Council chief executive Lesley McTurk is “extremely disappointed” after learning of the regional council Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) decision to include the City Council in a prosecution.

“We believed the two councils had been working productively to resolve the issues and, until hearing of the decision to prosecute, we understood ECan’s officers and management were satisfied with our efforts to put this right,” Dr McTurk says. “This decision to prosecute us comes at the last minute and virtually without warning. It’s extremely disappointing that ECan is conducting its relationship with a fellow council in this way.” The City Council has still to see the detail of ECan’s charges but is likely to vigorously defend its reputation, its processes and the actions of its officers. Dr McTurk is confident there are no grounds for including the City Council in such a prosecution.

“This prosecution appears to cut across and undermine all our efforts to work with the regional council towards getting solutions to the issues at Aidanfield,” Dr McTurk says. “And what will it achieve? It’s likely to involve a good deal of public money being spent on a court case and you have to ask what value that’s going to add.”

She says City Council staff believed their ECan colleagues were satisfied with work being done to remedy the situation. There have been a series of meetings and discussions between the councils on the topic and the City Council has received no evidence from ECan about how it is alleged to have broken the law.

“Since the incident in August when run-off entered the waterway, we’ve gone to considerable effort and expense to comply with ECan’s abatement notices and to put other measures in place,” Dr McTurk says. “Staff have kept ECan’s officers fully informed of the work and they’ve taken ECan’s people around the site so they can see first-hand the progress being made.

“This isn’t something we’ve ignored. We’re at a loss as to what else we could be doing to satisfy ECan’s concerns,” she says. “We are very aware of the issues thrown up by growth in the south-west of the city and we’re working hard to find sustainable solutions that take everyone’s interests into account, including those of residents, developers, the environment and ECan.”

ENDS

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