Tuesday, April 09, 2013

When is a hoarding not a hoarding

The Melbourne's City Council's denial and side shifting gets shiftier every day.

Not only did the City Council declare the minutes of its meetings to be a true and accurate record of its meeting, when they were not, the City Council today issued a statement that the "Structure" attached to the brick wall that collapsed killing three innocent victims  was neither an advertising sign or a hoarding and that no permit had been issued  for the structure attached to the collapsed wall or the site inspected.

Not only did the City Council fail to ensure that the required permits were issued and that the building and building works on on the site complied with the public safety standards, it also failed to inspect the site for compliance with Melbourne's local laws.

The question must be asked was the Council negligent in fulling its statutory duty and prime responsibility to ensure and protect public safety?

The Council, as claimed in its statement, has tried to shift the blame and responsibility for the building site management off to the State Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, who issued a planning permit for the site and as such the City Council was not responsible for the construction site approvals. The planning permit is different to the building and construction permit.

"There are intricacies in the way in which these (laws) interconnect and overlap," the council said in a statement on Tuesday.

The City Council still has a statutory obligation to ensure that building sites are constructed according to standards and that public safety is maintained. The responsibility for compliance and enforcement still remains with the City of Melbourne.

A team of engineers and inspectors and not one inspection had been made since the 3m high Grocon hoarding was constructed over a year ago.

Had the City Council inspected the site it could have identified the breaches in the building code and should have picked up the fact that the hoarding/fence/structure was taller than the permitted hoarding height of between 1.8 to 2.5 metres. Three innocent members of the public may still be alive today.

Of course anyone who dares question the Council's involvement or responsibility for oversight of the building site, which is subject to investigation by the Coroner, Work Safe and the Building Commission, is grandstanding as claimed by Melbourne City Councillor, Stephen Mayne, Chairman of the Council's Governance portfolio and Deputy Chairman of Planning.

The City of Melbourne Local Laws state

Compliance with Code

7.1 A person must comply with any obligation imposed by the Code. Compliance with the Standards
7.2 A person to whom the Standards apply must comply with any obligation imposed by the Standards

Construction Management Plan guidelines

The City of Melbourne requires developers and builders to carefully manage excavation, demolition and building works within its municipal boundaries.
To achieve this, builders and developers are required to submit a construction management plan that takes into account all relevant aspects of demolition or building work.
The guidelines address a range of issues to be managed onsite, including:
All public domain protection permits such as hoardings, gantries, cranes, etc are issued by the City of Melbourne’s Construction Management Group (Site Services)
A permit is required to be issued prior to the construction of a hoarding or fence within the municipality under the Municipal Local Law.  A permit for a hoarding last for one year and is subject for inspection by the City Council.  

Types of construction permits

The City of Melbourne issues many different permits for building and construction activities including:

Permits for safety and amenity

 Hoarding screens must be constructed of closely boarded timber or plywood between 1.8m to 2.4m in height to secure a building site and form a barrier against noise, dust and debris. Chain wire and corrugated iron fences are considered unsuitable for this purpose.
 Hoardings are to be designed to withstand wind loads to AS 1170.2 with counterweights as necessary to prevent overturning. In addition hoardings adjoining excavations are to be designed to withstand a lateral line load of 0.75 kN/m applied at a height of 1 metre from the base and suitably guarded by barriers to prevent vehicular impact.
 Hoardings and barricades must be in good condition, free from graffiti and maintained to the satisfaction of the Council. They should be painted in a uniform colour preferably white

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