Minutes from 24 August 2017 Business Meeting

Minutes from 24 August 2017 Business Meeting:

 

Minute Items:

  1. Mahunga to Favona Coastal Cycleway Update.
  2. Auckland Council BID (business improvement district) Expansion
  3. Where To From Here?
  4. Next Meeting Date

 

Introduction:

The meeting was well attended and enjoyed good participation from those attending, covering a lot of important subject matter – hence the length and detail contained in this Minute!

 

Apologies: Four business / property owners were not able to attend at short notice due to unanticipated business commitments.

 

1.

Mahunga to Favona Coastal Cycleway (MFCC)

 In order to pass this dangerous and concealed 24/7 cycleway through to approved concept plan stage, Mangere Otahuhu Local Board (MOLB) / Auckland Council (AC) have unlawfully:

  • Ignored and deleted our November 2016 submission from the majority of local businesses and also local residents opposing the project
  • Failed to accurately record Minutes from formal MOLB business meeting, registering majority opposition to the project.
  • Altered the Minutes from the MOLB business meeting(s) to falsify the public record of said meeting(s) so as not to record majority opposition to the project.
  • Refused to reply to Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act requests, where the information revealed corrupt / unlawful conduct by AC / MOLB.
  • Censured Favona Ratepayers Group spokesperson M. Erskine under the Auckland Council UCC policy to prevent further communication with the Auckland Council Governing Body (Councillors) and to restrict the flow of incriminating information relating to the MFCC.
  • Falsified a Ministry of Justice template safety report (CPTED) to eliminate all risk factors and dangers present in the MFCC concept plan, so MOLB members could vote in the concept plan without risk of later prosecution for wilful negligence etc.
  • Refused to meet / consult with, discuss or provide information to Favona Ratepayers Group (FRG) representing the majority of local businesses in the Favona / Mahunga area and also local residents.
  • Refused to consult with Te Puea Memorial Marae Committee regarding the MFCC.

In doing so, AC / MOLB have disregarded binding legislation contained in the following:

  • Local Government Act 2002.
  • Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009.
  • Public Records Act.
  • Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.
  • Crimes Act 1961.
  • Other legislation subject to legal advice.

Valuable submissions were made during the meeting supporting the majority view that the MFCC must not go ahead.

This entirely supports the majority supported November 2016 submission to AC / MOLB opposing the MFCC (see submission on www.favonaratepayers.org.nz)

 

Were the MFCC to go ahead, AC / MOLB intends to (eventually) extend the MFCC around the edge of the severely damaged (mangrove forests) Mangere Inlet to join up with the Waikaraka coastal cycleway / “crime corridor”.

  1. Erskine reports he has gone as far as he can with this matter due to the unlawful conduct of Auckland Council non-elected executives and the Mangere Otahuhu Local Board as identified above.

Unlawful conduct by larger councils in New Zealand is becoming a familiar problem to NZ’s Ratepayers.

Legal opinion on why this is occurring with increasing frequency is as follows:

  • Councils count on the very high cost of litigation against councils in our courts system, so will act unlawfully on the basis of “who is going to stop us!”.
  • Councils will continue to act unlawfully until a Judge in a court of appropriate jurisdiction rules the council actions to be unlawful.

However, to progress and resolve this particular matter in line with the wishes and best interests of local business / property owners, local residents including Te Puea Marae, is considered straight forward, as described in item 3. below.

 

2.

Auckland Council BID (business improvement district) Expansion to Favona.

Valuable submissions were made during the meeting emphasising the poor performance of and the high cost South Harbour BID Association in Mahunga Drive over many years.

These submissions are in line with comments to M. Erskine from the majority of local businesses in Mahunga Drive.

Auckland Council plan to expand it’s BID (Business Improvement District) program  from Mahunga Drive into the Favona business area by way of a promotion by the Auckland Council funded South Harbour BID Association (SHBA) managers Alexandra Holley and Catherine Te Reo.

Where SHBA have been found to be mis-informing local business / property owners in relation to this very important matter.

  1. Erskine has prepared and distributed the attached information leaflet to local business / property owners giving all of the information (including the targeted rate cost) that Auckland Cpouncil / SHBA omitted in their promotion.

Of particular risk to local business / property owners is:

  • An Auckland Council designed Ballot is being hurriedly mailed out to local property and business owners where property and business owners are being asked to vote YES or NO to the BID expansion into Favona, (based on mis-information provided by Auckland Council funded Holley and Te Reo).
  • Auckland Council and Election Services Ltd (who will receive and count the votes) claim the ballot papers were mailed on 23 August 2017 (last week), but businesses report none have been received to date.

Buried in the complex, 96 page Auckland Council designed BID Program Policy is the Ballot policy which states:

  • A minimum of 14% of local property / business owners voting YES in the Ballot, can bind 100% of local property and business owners to pay a targeted rate to Auckland Council to fund SHBA every year going forwards.
  • This is regardless of whether or not the majority of local property and business owners receive any minimal benefit from SHBA (Holley & Te Reo) or not.
  • The targeted rate amount is .00048 X the Capital Value of each property.
  • The BID policy states this amount can be increased by Auckland Council at any time without consultation with property and business owners.

If you don’t want a bar of the above, it’s extremely important you vote “NO” in the imminent ballot and make sure you mail your ballot papers back.

Throwing the ballot papers in the bin will not count as a “NO” vote.

As with item 1. above, M. Erskine has taken the BID expansion matter as far as he can.

Progressing or ending the proposed BID expansion into Favona is now in the hands of local business and property owners, to vote “NO” in the imminent postal ballot.

A valuable submission was made during the meeting that because the ballot policy is designed by Auckland Council to enable very few local business / property owners (14%) to bind 100% (all) local business / property owners into paying the new targeted rate to fund SHBA, that we should seek to audit the voting papers.

Election Services Ltd and Auckland Council will be contacted and this request made under the Local Government Official Information And Meetings Act 1987.

 

3.

Where To From Here?:

  1. Erskine provided the following recommendations and options to progress and resolve the MFCC (and all other future important local matters), to benefit the majority of local businesses and also local residents including Te Puea Marae:

The wilful and unlawful conduct of AC and MOLB in these matters, make them straight forward matters to resolve in our favour, by way of either:

  • Direct high level communication with AC CEO, Mayor and Governing Body (Elected Councillors).
  • High Court Judicial Review.
  • Ministerial intervention under Part 10 of the Local Government Act 2002.
  • Criminal complaint(s) to Police under Section 111 (and other Sections) of the Crimes Act 1961 .

NB:

Where AC / MOLB are bound by New Zealand Legislation (and AC bylaws and policies) and have clearly acted unlawfully in these matters, their unlawful actions are indefensible before a High Court Judge.

 Where a Judicial Review in the High Court is chosen by a new Business Forum or Association to resolve these matters, an order for Costs (and Punitive Damages) can also be sought and would be awarded in these circumstances, to reimburse all costs / damages incurred by local business Ratepayers who were compelled to bring the Judicial Review to hearing.

 

Therefore, to progress and resolve these matters beyond the current stage:

  • Legal advice should be sought from senior independent legal council to confirm the full extent of the council’s wilful legislative breaches and to make robust recommendations to the new Business Forum or Association to achieve beneficial outcomes for local key stakeholders in this matter (and others) going forwards.
  • In considering the best option for the most effective independent legal advice, M. Erskine recommends the Director of Whangarei law firm, Henderson Reeves, Rishworth and Colins, Jeremy Browne, BSc, LLB(Hons), LLM(Hons).
  • This recommendation is confidently made, based on Mr Browne’s current, exemplary record and results representing the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association (MRRA) Vs Kaipara District Council (KDC) and Northland Regional Council NRC.
  • The High Court Ruling in favour of MRRA is of precident setting importance to all NZ Ratepayers beset by their councils operating out of control.
  • Whether or not the MFCC (and other) matters go before a High Court Judge, Mr Browne’s astute legal council and experience in Local Government matters (and Henderson Reeves support staff) is seen as an integral part of efficient strategic planning by the new Business Forum or Association executive, going forwards.

NB:

Mr Browne also acts for M. Erskine and his Family Trust and is already briefed in these unfolding matters.

 

Because AC / MOLB are able to plan and unilaterally predetermine projects and schemes behind closed doors, this places business / property owners continually “on the back foot” in trying to deal retrospectively with any AC / MOLB predetermined plan, project or scheme the AC / MOLB rolls out that is not in the best interests of the majority of local business / property owners (Ratepayers).

 

The formation of an astutely managed, well resourced local Business Forum or Association as described above enables local business / property owners to remain independent and get ahead of the secretive and unilateral predetermination actions of our “public servants”, AND to compel them to focus on:

  • Prudent use of Ratepayers funds.
  • Critical local infrastructure development (such as transformation of 1960’s era suburban roads, etc, etc) to benefit the majority of local business / property owners and local residents.

 

Where a Business Forum or Association is formed independent of any links and conflicts of interest with AC / MOLB and where J. Browne, Henderson Reeves are retained as proposed above, M. Erskine’s current voluntary role in these matters becomes redundant.

 

A Business Forum operated in the local area 3 or so years ago when the AC tried to downgrade the heavy industrial zoning in the area (unilateral / predetermined) without consulting with local business / property owners.

 

  1. Erskine believes the attempt to downgrade the zoning is still on the table at Auckland Council along with a large number of other plans, schemes and projects produced subsequently behind closed doors, that may adversely effect local business / property owners, residents and Te Puea Marae.

 

Hence the importance of establishing an independent Forum or Association. Once operational, it will require very little maintenance and input with the small workload shared amongst experienced and capable business professionals.

 

Where supporting business / property owners wish to remain anonymous or in the background to these escalating matters, but contribute, Mr J. Browne, Henderson Reeves will protect the identities and act astutely on behalf of those companies / individuals wishing to remain anonymous.

 

The FRG website www.favonaratepayers.org.nz can become the website for the new Forum

or Association if required.

Where the majority of local business / property owners are unwilling to challenge the ongoing (unlawful) conduct of AC / MOLB and do nothing:

  • AC / MOLB will continue to escalate their (unlawful) predetermination of plans, schemes and projects behind closed doors at our expense.
  • Local business / property owners and local residents will progressively have less say in the unilateral predetermined actions of our “public servants”.
  • Behind closed doors, AC / MOLB will remain 6-8 steps ahead of local business / property owners in their planning / predetermination / implementing.
  • Critical local infrastructure development will take second place to AC  “vanity projects” and schemes that do not address the wishes and best interests of local business / property owners or local residents, due to Auckland Council’s severe indebtedness and management that is out of Ratepayers control.

4.

Next Meeting:

The next meeting will call for a vote on all of the above, so your attendance is not only important – it’s in your very best interests.

The meeting was to be the 28 September 2017, this has been postponed awaiting legal report to present to the meeting.