BUILDERS and members of the public have complained to The Daily Examiner in recent days about Clarence Valley Council's policy of only allowing public access to building inspectors, planners and other officers between the hours of 9-11am.
Industry insiders say the policy is indicative of the council's "road barrier to business approach" and The Examiner will explore the deeper issues next week.
Today we've focused on the 9-11 policy and have questioned whether builders, retailers or the public were ever properly consulted about the timeslot which our contacts said was inconvenient and did not fit in with their work flow.
In an environment in which jobs in the Valley are as precious as gold, new and thriving business is rare and the building industry has slowed significantly, we ask whether the council should be doing more not only to attract new business but also make life easier for the current operators.
The council's deputy general manager (Environmental and Economic) Des Schroder said yesterday the two-hour timeslot for inquiries was about the efficient use of the council's limited resources.
Builders say a 3-5pm timeslot would be more suitable and one "old-schooler" wants a return to the former system where people could access officers all day.
Grafton builder Dennis Boyd is not one to whinge - he's learnt to work within the 9-11am hours made available to him by Clarence Valley Council for access to building surveyors and inspectors but, he said yesterday, it was far from ideal.
"We have to work around it; it's certainly inconvenient," he said. "It's a small window in the first part of the day and often to leave a site at that time is imprac- tical."
Asked if he was ever given the option of making an appointment with the inspectors, an option the council's deputy general manager Des Schroder says is readily available, Mr Boyd said: "Nah they just say we've got to speak to them in these hours. I understand that they are not in the office after this.
"They are out doing inspections, but it would definitely be good to have someone available for inquiries between three and five.
"The inspectors themselves are good blokes; it's not them, it's the policy that's the problem."
Mr Boyd said he hears quite often from his peers about other problems developers are having with Clarence Valley Council, but did not wish to comment publicly about the details.