“Regardless of how much it sold for, the purpose of the sale was not to make a profit, but to make sure a “sustainable” service was put in place for the council’s existing tennants, Clapperton said. “ ….. yeah right! And that nice word again that all Agenda 2030 ICLEI councils bandy around… “sustainable”… like HDC’s sustainable environmental practices (spraying/discharging sewage over everywhere & into the waterways with impunity).. and “Compassion Horowhenua” (that is really the front company for WILLIS & BOND THE PROPERTY DEVELOPER) is going to build more housing for pensioners (only for 12 years mind)… words escape me. How dumb they must think we all are. Or is it because if you tell porkies long enough everyone will believe you? EnvirowatchRangitikei
The council would not confirm how much the housing sold for, but conceded the sale price was less than $7.19 million, the units’ book value.
Council chief executive David Clapperton said the Compassion Housing bid provided the best value for money offer and met its aspirations for ongoing management of the units.
Rateable values are set every three years by Quotable Value.
The book value, made by independent valuers, took into consideration the average age of the portfolio and that 50-60 per cent of the stock would have to be replaced over the next 20-25, years at an estimated cost of $4.3 million, Clapperton said.
Until the sale was complete, possibly by September 30, information about the deal would remain confidential, he said.
So the suspicions of many of us were not unfounded, highlighted here by Labour Party’s Rob McCann. Those services promised for the life of the pensioner housing tenants’ contracts may likely come unwrapped & get tossed in the recycle bin in 12 years time. We were assured that their current contracts with HDC would continue, and yet the agreement with the property developer cum community housing provider we’re told actually has an end date & HDC isn’t highlighting that. The tenants who were ‘consulted’
vigorously (over a free dinner) are currently of the understanding things won’t be changing. But all the warm, fuzzy spin about the long term wrap around services are likely just that. Spin. They were sugar coating the bitter pill of privatization methinks. Funny isn’t it? Privatization (aka selling off the family silver) was always sold to us as such a good thing. Like the Emperor’s new clothes. But we all know it’s not & that’s especially illustrated by the fact that they surround it with smoke and mirrors. In this case they threw the one dissenting voice off the housing committee to allow for ‘true’ democracy to occur. (That was the Mayor who it seems isn’t allowed to exercise his democratic right to disagree with them). Then they conducted everything in private secret-squirrel style. ‘Nothing to see here’.
Alternatively they coat the sell-off plans with sugar by including terms like ‘wrap around services’, ‘social commitment’, ‘inclusiveness’, ‘affordability’, ‘sustainability’ (that Agenda 21 buzz word again), ‘compassion’, ‘specialist support’ and so on. Some of us though don’t fall for that. The older folks among us can sniff a rodent five miles away. They remember how it used to be (full employment, all housed, healthy kids, very little poverty) but lived through the era when Rogernomics drove us down the promised path of prosperity that now sees us featuring in UNICEF’s hall-of-shame stats. Highest teen suicide rate in the world? Well done NZ. And welcome to the new fuzzy world of global citizenship and global governance. Joining any dots folks? It’s simply not adding up. EnvirowatchHorowhenua
Horowhenua District Council being economic with the truth
Horowhenua District Council being economic with the truth on housing sales
“This is privatisation of public assets. Simply put, it is an asset sale, and the manner of the sale almost beggars belief,” says Mr McCann.
“Horowhenua District Council’s sale of pensioner flats has left many important questions unanswered”, says Otaki’s Labour candidate, Rob McCann, who is adamantly opposed to the sale.
“The Council has opted not to point out to the public that the agreement with the new providers expires in just 12 years. That is, quite simply, unbelievable. “One of the community’s major concerns was to ensure that the dwellings would remain as Pensioner Housing stock. And yet, here it is in writing, that the agreement lasts only for twelve years. That is stunning, and makes a mockery of the council talking about the “best fit” and “solution” for the community. The deal allows for a future where there is no guarantee that these Pensioner Flats even remain as community housing.”
Mr McCann says the Council has also opted not to highlight that only 105 of the 115 houses are covered by the social housing purpose. “What will happen to the other ten? And there is little mention of the 1.1 hectares of land plot that is part of the sale. Will this be given to the property developers?”
Astoundingly, there is simply no guarantee that the housing will even remain as ‘Pensioner Housing’, given CE David Clapperton’s reference to it merely as ‘Community Housing’, as reported in the Horowhenua Chronicle.
“This is privatisation of public assets. Simply put, it is an asset sale, and the manner of the sale almost beggars belief,” says Mr McCann.
“The Council outlined the sale of the Pensioner flats at a press conference without even inviting the Mayor. This is extraordinary. Whether you agree with his stance on various issues or not, to exclude the Mayor just because he opposes the sale is simply another example of a flawed sale process conducted by this council.
“It seems that the council has opted to continue to ‘spin the sale’ to the public, rather than reveal all the details, and it was therefore disappointing to see a local front page story without a number of pertinent facts,” says Mr McCann.
“I understand that the press conference was hastily called once details of the sale were leaked, especially the information that the prospective purchasers – and ultimate owners of the land and housing stock – are property developers, not social housing providers,” said Mr McCann.
“There is a clear housing crisis in this country, and decisions such as this represent a transfer of wealth from the community to the private sector. This does nothing to avert the housing crisis”.
Mr McCann says that Horowhenua District Council must answer these questions and also discontinue this appalling process.
Further to our previous article on this topic, this information is quoted with permission from the Facebook page of the Horowhenua District Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association. It speaks to some of the questions people have been asking in the past few days since the sale of Horowhenua’s community housing, and raises many more. I find it concerning there was only ONE councillor on a publicly excluded council panel evaluating pensioner housing proposals. Read the other concerns they raise.
A link to the fb page is at the end of the article. Any emphases in the article are mine.
NOTE: further updates on this issue, unless they warrant a further article, will be added as an update at the end of the article at this link. EnvirowatchHorowhenua
“The sale must be halted and HUG will fight to the end to stop this sale from proceeding. Watch this space” Andrea Smyth, spokesperson
A Horowhenua group that presented a petition to district mayor Michael Feyen signed by 2300 in ten days by people objecting to the sale of their dedicated pensioner housing vows to fight on to prevent what they call the stripping out of a significant asset in a questionable land deal.
As well as 115 units spread throughout the district the pensioner housing portfolio also includes one point one hectare of land in Levin and is estimated to be worth in real terms at least $26 million.
The petition was organised by a group against the pensioner housing sale called Horowhenua United Group (HUG) which includes Horowhenua District Ratepayers and Residents Assoc Inc, the MuaUpoko Co-operative Society, Labour Party and NZ First.
Councillor Jo Mason who chairs council’s wellbeing committee, and was the only councillor on a publicly excluded council panel evaluating pensioner housing proposals, was invited to accept the petition too but her only response to HUG was a text that said, “Got your message-will call when I am free.” She never did call back.
HUG spokesperson Andrea Smythe said further action may include legal action to argue in favour of setting up a Trust, instead of selling, one of the options which seventy people who attended a community organised public meeting recently voted in favour of.
Details of the sale of the pensioner housing have been leaking like a sieve ever since land developer and Cr Wayne Bishop emerged from a publicly excluded council meeting on the sale last Tuesday to announce the pensioner housing asset had been sold.
Since then questions and speculations have been running rife including that a community housing provider will lease the land and the land has been sold separately. But the most damaging claim of all is that certain unnamed council officers and councillors have set up a company to buy the land.
Ms Smythe, “We have a right to know whether this is true and if it is true is it even legal? Can council officers and councillors set up a company arrangement to benefit financially and personally from the sale of a significant publicly owned asset?
“Can the title to an asset we have been told by chief executive David Clapperton all along will be bought by a stage one community housing provider be split up like this? If this is all true we are feeling greatly deceived by our own council especially if it eventuates that some council officers and councillors will be financially benefiting by millions of dollars from the sale.
“Especially when shareholders are very angry about the proposed sale and furthermore have been denied access to the details of the sale agreement partly by the very same council officers and councillors who are said to be involved in setting up a business structure to buy the land the pensioner housing is built on.
Also, if this is all true [and it’s bad enough if it is] does this therefore questionable sale still fall within the mandate of being considered a community housing provider in a legal and statutory sense if the community provider leases the land and doesn’t own it?”
“Community housing providers are eligible for tax and Government financial benefits but will the landowners, if they are a separate entity, also be eligible for Government discounts? Or will the new landowners charge leases based on indirectly financially benefiting from Government tax and other financial incentives provided by the Government to the community housing provider?
“All this does is raise further concerns about what kind of deal has been done and whether it is true the land will be leased to a community housing provider already publicly named as the Sisters of Compassion.
“We have grave concerns whether this sale agreement conforms with expected practice in the provision of community housing services. What would happen if the leases go up and then these increases are passed on to the tenants? How would that be fulfilling the community housing contract?
“And if it is true the Sisters of Compassion will be leasing the land to provide the community housing services how long will the terms of the lease be? Is this a thinly disguised attempt to landbank a valuable housing portfolio so the landowners can make a profit at a later date? Who is the person or company who are buying a significant amount of land locally if the land is being sold as a separate entity? Do the new owners include council representatives?
“Perhaps the plan is to landbank the asset until further down the legislative track when land developers may be able to register as community housing providers to secure financial benefits through tax and other Government incentives. There are far more questions than answers though surrounding this significant ratepayer and resident asset that houses our most vulnerable elderly residents which makes this sale untenable. And we want answers to these serious concerns,” she said.
If attempts at stopping the sale fails HUG would also like to know what plans council has for the money from the sale of the pensioner housing portfolio as, “I am sure the ratepayers and residents would like to know whether there is any profits from the sale and what will happen with the profits. Will the money be set aside in a separate account?” said Ms Smythe.
One of the criticisms leveled at council by internationally recognised financial organisation Standard and Poor’s in a recent credit rating report was the council did not have enough “cash assets” so HUG wants to know what will happen with cash assets from this sale?
“Will the cash assets from the fire sale of this valuable asset, that will never be able to be replaced, just be absorbed into council’s general income stream to disappear forever from public scrutiny? Will our rates decrease so the ratepayers and residents, the shareholders of this significant asset, see a real return too on their asset? Is council even proposing they do this? No, they are not, but the shareholders should get to financially benefit too if the sale does proceed. So, what will happen to any cash profits from the sale,” Ms Smythe said.
The group says the way decisions have been made on this important local matter contravenes at least council’s own draft significance and engagement policy and the spirit and intention of the Local Official Government and Meetings Act to behave with openess and transparency not to mention perceived claims of fraudulent behaviour in the event it is true council officers and councillors are involved in the land sale.
“We have seen this council hold secret meetings under the cloak of ‘commercial confidentiality’ far too frequently and with little cause which is why we don’t trust this sale process or even recognise council’s mandate to sell this significant taonga on our behalf,” said Ms Smythe
“The sale must be halted and HUG will fight to the end to stop this sale from proceeding. Watch this space,” she said.
HUG spokesperson Andrea Smythe contact: media contact 027 2443211 for more information
Image: Horowhenua District Council mayor Michael Feyen accepts the petition from one of the organisers Christine Moriarty and petition supporters in council chambers.
NOTE: Due to the unfolding nature of this topic, check back regularly for further updates which will be included at the end of this article. Thank you.
You may be aware that the Horowhenua’s pensioner houses have been sold as of last week. The announcement came shortly after the secret meeting precluded by the public allowed section when it was clear any last ditch attempts by the Mayor to delay the sale or even the decision to sell were squashed (all at the above link). We have been given eight weeks to hear who bought them but have been reassured that the new owners will be providing wrap around services far superior to what HDC have offered. We were also told they had to sell because of the financial logistics. Not viable. Too much debt. You can read the details of that in the various news reports.
Today, At the Nua, a Horowhenua FB page, posted a very pertinent and intriguing question. It appears someone has been doing a bit of research around the sale of the housing & come up with some interesting information … here is a quote from the page:
“Why on 16 May 2017 has a Wellington Developer, Willis Bond & Co, registered several new companies like “Compassion Horowhenua” and “WB Horowhenua”- so who is BEHIND the companies looking to acquire the community houses?
The councillors have led us to believe that the new owner is the “Sisters of Compassion” but are they just a “front” for a property investment by this Wellington Developer?”
I’ve had a search myself around the companies register and found the following (which by the way is obviously publicly accessible and not private confidential knowledge). It is certainly interesting that these businesses were registered just one week before the highly secretive sale. Nobody will argue they have been secretive. The Mayor was taken off the committee for the sale (due to said conflict of interest, he’s always opposed the sale for very good reasons) and the establishment have discussed the entire affair behind closed doors. HDC has also declined to open the books. (For further info on the goings on at HDC see the Horowhenua sub page under our Local Govt Watch pages). And watch this space because hopefully there will be some explanations forthcoming on this. And in eight weeks hopefully we are going to hear what price the houses went for.
UPDATES 31 May 2017
It’s been confirmed that the sale was/is to the property developer. This information is from At the Nua on FB :
Amidst public outcry from the gallery at HDC’s pre, public-allowed portion of the meeting, the decision was made for the sale of the flats. Read details in the article attached. These flats have been the subject of much controversy as like dominoes the Horowhenua DC follows many other districts who have sold (out). More evidence of the great divide as we drift (or is it slide rapidly?) from a caring benevolent society to one that considers the profit motive only. We’re told often that these sales are to pay down debt yet read the rationale behind debt in the LG article below. They justify debt as being perfectly normal. The new norm. Same rationale the government/corporation use for selling the state housing yet the HC was running at a profit!
And the ‘consultation’ with tenants for the sale of these flats took place over a Council-purchased dinner for heaven’s sakes. Does that not tell you something? And I’ve been told by one outspoken tenant he was shut down very quickly when he voiced any dissent over the sale. Consultation by Councils are a sham, period. Go to this link and see for yourself what their definition of consultation actually is. It is not taken from the Webster’s nor any other dictionary in case you didn’t realize this. This is from the LG magazine written in quite a humourous tone so you’d be forgiven for thinking they are taking the proverbial pee. You can read the entire article at this link.
So you can see why people are banging their heads on brick walls. Does it occur to you to ask, why have Council or the LG folk not come forward and explained this difference of meaning to the public? Seems logical doesn’t it? Yet they seem to prefer to keep us in the dark or banging our heads, all for the want of a simple explanation. We dutifully turn up at their sham consultation meetings thinking they are taking our opinions into account. May as well stay home by the fire and save your energy.
Anyway, read what happened over the secret squirrel meeting HDC then proceeded to after the public outcry and the hamstrung Mayor tried and failed to stall the sale. The majority in Council love secret squirrel meetings, they don’t want the public to know what’s really going on. Same as they won’t open the books as was requested long ago. It gets easier to see why a Mayor who is pushing for transparency & public involvement is being ostracized. He is the complete antithesis of what has been going on there. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out our Local Govt Watch pages at the menu. You’ll be surprized. NZ’s become very corrupt as also have our DCs. This is on account of Agenda 21/2030, the UN plan for ‘sustainable’ development that is everything but sustainable. Check out those pages as well if you want to understand what is behind all of this change in tack. EnvirowatchRangitikei
Watch NZH Local Focus: Sold! Horowhenua’s pensioner housing gone
There was anger in the public gallery as Horowhenua District Council voted to sell off 115 pensioner houses across Levin and Foxton.
Nine Councillors ignored the Mayor’s motion to stall the sale process.
He wanted the Finance and Risk Committee look at the sale and for councillors to get a briefing on it.
“This has just gone straight to in committee, with only one councillor involved in the evaluation of the whole proposal, in terms of those that put in expressions of interest. Remember council voted me out of that committee because I had a conflict of interest Because I’ve been vocal in my manifesto to get elected, I had said I wanted to retain pensioner housing,” says Mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen.
Horowhenua residents ‘stonewalled’ by council in battle to keep pensioner housing
Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen wants more public consultation before council-owned pensioner housing is potentially sold off.
Horowhenua residents feel “stonewalled” by their council after the planned sale of pensioner housing was discussed behind closed doors.
The Horowhenua District Council was on Tuesday evening considering an evaluation panel’s recommendation over the potential transfer of 115 council-owned pensioner flats in Levin and Foxton, as well as 1 hectare of residential development land in Levin.
Councillors debated their options behind closed doors and some residents, as well as mayor Michael Feyen, were not happy.