On a hunger strike

Manawatu Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By ALEXAN­DER ROBERT­SON

‘Con­sid­er­ing we’ve done four and a half years of this, we feel our lives have been held to ran­som and we just want our ’ lives back. — Ge­orge Grif­fith

Mon­day was the dreaded day for leaky home own­ers Les­ley Thomas and Ge­orge Grif­fith, when Ge­orge started his hunger strike as they plead for as­sis­tance from Manawatu¯ District Coun­cil.

Les­ley and Ge­orge bought their home in the Ruahine Ranges in the Po­hang­ina Val­ley four and a half years ago. They say the home should have never re­ceived a Code Com­pli­ance Cer­tifi­cate (CCC).

This is sup­ported by NZ House Sur­vey in­de­pen­dent build­ing in­spec­tor Jeff Twigge, who said Les­ley and Ge­orge have been “screwed”.

On Mon­day Ge­orge weighed 80.2kg. He has vowed to con­sume only wa­ter un­til there is a res­o­lu­tion to the is­sue.

His plea is to Manawatu¯ District Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Tem­pler to find a so­lu­tion to meet the build­ing code stan­dards.

Ac­cord­ing to the cou­ple, and other build­ing in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als who have in­spected it, the home failed to meet the build­ing code in many ar­eas in­clud­ing struc­tural in­tegrity, and parts of the build don’t match con­sented plans, but it was still given a CCC.

Tem­pler vis­ited Les­ley and Ge­orge last Fri­day, and of­fered to pay for me­di­a­tion. How­ever, the cou­ple want a set­tle­ment of­fer and felt the the let­ter still in­di­cated the coun­cil was not at fault.

This week, the cou­ple ac­cepted the of­fer of me­di­a­tion and replied in per­son out­side the coun­cil. They felt it was too lit­tle too late.

“We ac­cepted the meet­ing and we want to hear what they’ve got to say, but we just wanted to make sure that they are still aware the hunger strike was go­ing ahead be­cause, as we stated in the let­ter, we need some kind of set­tle­ment of­fer and that has not come for­ward,” Les­ley said.

Ge­orge said he felt it was time for the Manawatu¯ District Coun­cil to do more than talk.

“Con­sid­er­ing we’ve done four and a half years of this, we feel our lives have been held to ran­som and we just want our lives back,” Ge­orge said.

Lo­cal Fo­cus asked Tem­pler whether the coun­cil was go­ing to be ac­count­able for is­su­ing the Code Com­pli­ance Cer­tifi­cate on the prop­erty, but he did not re­ply.

Na­tional Party MP Ian McKelvie has also vis­ited the house and has writ­ten to the min­is­ter, ask­ing that some­thing be done.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult for fam­i­lies or cou­ples to take le­gal ac­tion,” he said. “Whose li­a­bil­ity it is, I don’t know, but cer­tainty the builder or coun­cil or in­spec­tors or who­ever was part of that must have some cul­pa­bil­ity in this case.” Ge­orge said he was pre­pared to con­tinue his hunger strike un­til the end.

“It’s a very sad case and I hope there is res­o­lu­tion for Ge­orge be­fore it goes too far.”

The cou­ple have set up a Face­book page Starv­ing for Jus­tice www.face­book.com/ Starv­ing-For-Jus­tice246555326205696/

■ Lo­cal Fo­cus: Made with fund­ing from NZ on Air

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