Council surveyor hit with caution

Case lingered five years

A MELVILLE council surveyor has been cautioned for being “negligent or incompetent” during a long-running dispute that played a role in instigating the 2019 state inquiry into the council.

The Building Services Board issued the caution to Modesto Giancaspro for signing a retrospective “certificate 

of building compliance” for renovations to a house in Beach Street, Bicton despite not checking that the work complied with the rules.

Neighbour Mark McLerie said the finding validated a years-long battle he’s waged with the council and exposed systemic issues in the city’s planning department and leadership.

“I first started complaining to the City of Melville about the structure the neighbour constructed along the boundary in 2015,” Mr McLerie said.

Punished

He also raised concerns about a patio, pool spa and decking, a retaining wall a dividing fence and noise issues, but said the council either took no action, dismissed his enquiries, or even appeared to punish him for speaking up.

As the dispute heated up, Mr McLerie joined the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association; his issue adding to its list of grievances that were taken up with authorities and members of parliament across the state. The MRRA’s agitation and extensive complaints to the local government association contributed to the McGowan government calling an inquiry which found the council was in need of “cultural change”.

In the wake of the report former mayor Russell Aubrey and his faction were roundly defeated in the 2019 elections.

Under the regime of new mayor George Gear, the council ordered an internal investigation into Mr McLerie’s complaints, but he says the administration is still playing hardball and withholding information from him.

He wrote to CEO Marten Tieleman on March 30 complaining that a freedom of information application he had submitted wasn’t dealt with within the legislated timeline.

But he’s happy for the acknowledgement from building board that his complaints were valid.

The board found Mr Giancaspro signed the certificate despite plans being “ambiguous” and he didn’t record site inspections he was relying on.

Safety

“Of particular concern, in this case, is that the [certificate] failed to demonstrate compliance with the swimming pool barrier, which is an essential component of water safety for children,” the board’s building and energy executive director Saj Abdoolakhan said in a release.

The board decided not to send Mr Giancaspro’s case up the chain to the State Administrative Tribunal 

for a possible $5000 fine or termination of registration, saying the caution should suffice.

Mr McLerie believes cautions are a slap on the wrist given the stress he’s been through, and don’t address structural and cultural problems.

“To find fault with a surveyor is very narrow, no doubt a little bit light.”

The Herald contacted the city.

by SAXON OMA

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