Category Archives: HDC

Horowhenua DC’s apparent conflicts of interest

Horowhenua investigative journalist Veronica Harrod has been looking at apparent conflicts of interest within the Horowhenua District Council. At this link (from the website of the Office of the Auditor General) you will see the clear rules and guidelines around declaring conflicts of interest when representing your local Council. In brief:

“Under the Act, you cannot:

  • enter into contracts with your local authority worth more than $25,000 in a financial year; or
  • discuss or vote on matters before your authority in which you have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest, other than an interest in common with the public.”

READ MORE AT THE LINK.

Read Veronica’s article posted at her Facebook page:

15 January, 2020

New Levin Ward councillor Todd Isaacs already has a conflict of interest

Two councillors have a major financial stake in commercial property earmarked in the Levin Town Centre Strategy for development by Horowhenua District Council.

Fourth term councillor Wayne Bishop and new Levin Ward councillor Todd Isaacs are both directors and shareholders of property investment company Write Properties Ltd.

The 3032 square property, on the corner of Oxford Street and Queen Street West, purchased by Write Properties Ltd on 28 November 2014, is within an area referred to as, “a key east-west movement corridor” and “a new consolidated east-west town core” in the strategy adopted by the previous Council in November 2018.

Purchased for $900,000 five years ago the property now has a rateable value of $2.08 million.

Despite several references in the Levin Town Centre Strategy to developing new activities on the west side of town, where the property is, the Council minutes show that Cr Bishop did not declare a financial conflict of interest or remove himself from discussing or voting in favour of the Levin town strategy.

Office of the Auditor General advice says, “The Local Authorities (Members’ Interest) Act helps protect the integrity of local authority decision-making by ensuring that people are not affected by personal motives when they participate in local authority decision-making.”

New Levin Ward councillor Todd Isaacs said he didn’t tell voters in the October 2019 local body elections he has a financial interest in a major property earmarked for development by the Council because he, “didn’t have to.”

Whether the owners of the Queen Street West property will benefit from, “Opportunities for new activities and businesses to cluster around a transport hub located in the centre of town”, or whether the intention is to develop the Queen Street West site as the Horowhenua Integrated Transport Hub is not known at this stage.

Write Properties Ltd also owns a 1013 m2 property in the industrial sector of Levin at 33 Hokio Beach Road valued at $335,000 in 2016.

The other three shareholders of Write Properties Ltd are Corey Kennett, Justin Rangi and Callum Dunsmore.

New Horowhenua mayor Bernie Wanden also has a financial conflict of interest because he owns a business in Levin’s town centre, with his wife Sharon Wanden, that is built on land the Council sold to mayor Wanden’s wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law for a firesale price in a controversial sale one month before the local body elections last year.

The land had a rateable value of $295,000 when it was sold to mayor Wanden’s wife and her relations for $230,000.

This represents a 28 percent discount. At the time of the sale the public were told by the Council the discount was only 15 percent.

The Council is contracting the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust to undertake all the extensive – and yet to be funded – land and property development projects included in the Levin Town Centre Strategy and the Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040.

todd isaacs

Photo of Queen Street West property in Levin Town Centre Strategy

INFO FOR COUNCILORS: https://oag.govt.nz/good-practice/conflicts-of-interest/for-councillors?fbclid=IwAR0uX9hr-YFVUJZ0oAu3vKvlZwwIlS047AzBCz9Vj1R72H49Cfbxba5-A4o

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21 January

New Levin Ward councillor Todd Isaacs is refusing to provide evidence he had election campaign flyers printed by Levin digital printer The Old Foundry.

Cr Isaacs stated on his signed Return of Electoral Donations and Expenses form that he paid $1174.73 to The Old Foundry for flyers and signs.

But when Horowhenua district councillor Isaacs was asked to produce a copy of the flyer he said he didn’t have any because, “I only did 2000 and they were all delivered.”

He did not respond to a request for information about where his flyers were delivered.

The final election results published by the electoral officer Warwick Lampp
on 16 October said Cr Isaacs received 1718 votes.

Local Levin man Ian Tate was appointed deputy electoral officer but the 60 year old, who had worked for the Council in a variety of roles for almost 30 years, died suddenly at home on 28 August.

Despite the Local Electoral Act 2001 stating candidates “must” take all reasonable steps to keep records of all candidate election expenses, Cr Isaacs has remained silent to a request for any evidence he had the campaign material printed.

The Act also says candidates, “must keep invoices and receipts for all election expenses of $50 or more for three years after returns are filed.”

When The Old Foundry owner Rex Vizible was phoned to confirm Cr Isaacs had spent “$1700 odd dollars for flyers and signs for Cr Isaacs” he said, “Yep, I can” even though Cr Isaacs had spent $1174 and not $1700.

Mr Vizible, also known as music producer Brett Stephen Taylor, was convicted and jailed for sexually assaulting a 29 year old male friend in an alcohol fuelled attack on 18 July, 2006.

The victim was quoted in a Stuff news article saying, “People really do need to know who this guy is…for the safety of the community as well.”

Deputy mayor Jo Mason also paid Mr Vizible’s business $1451.42 for campaign material.

Ratepayer funds have also been paid to Mr Vizible’s business by the Council and Foxton Community Board for The Foxton Godwits installation.

The Old Foundry website also includes glowing testimonials from Canvasland Ltd, Crowe Construction and Associates Ltd, the internationally known Swazi Apparel and Cr Piri-Hira Tukapua.

But Cr Piri-Hira Tukapua did not avail herself of Mr Vizible’s services at the last election.

Since enquiries for this news story began The Old Foundry has been busy deleting information from its website on 20 and 21 January including removing the names of other recommendations from real estate agent PGA Wrightson and Repco.

A photo of a large banner advertising The Old Foundry in Levin was also removed.

The advertising banner was erected above the 3032 square property, on the corner of Oxford Street and Queen Street West, owned by Write Properties Ltd.

Cr Isaacs and Cr Wayne Bishop are directors and shareholders of Write Properties Ltd.

 

The Horowhenua DC is seeking a 35 yr resource consent to continue discharging all of Levin’s treated waste water and other contaminants onto ecologically and culturally important coastal sand dunes

Surprized at this headline? It was discovered in 2018 that HDC’s CE David Clapperton had made a secret pay out of close to a million dollars to a local iwi on the proviso they withdrew their objection to another consent to do with discharge of treated waste water. If you check out our LG Watch pages (main menu) and Horowhenua you will read further interesting detail about pollution and the HDC. See this article in particular at this link (info from a former HDC councilor).

The article below here is from investigative journalist Veronica Harrod who has been shining a spotlight on many anomalies in the Horowhenua. EWR

The Pot thickens

3 February 2020

Horowhenua District Council is seeking a 35 year resource consent to continue discharging all of Levin’s treated waste water and other contaminants onto ecologically and culturally important coastal sand dunes four kilometres west of Levin.

In its application to regional council Manawatu Whanganui Regional Council the local council admits it didn’t do any, “direct consultation on the consent (and resulting effects of the activity)” during consultations on the Council’s 2018-2038 Long Term Plan.

The long term plan states, “For the first time, Council has created a 20 year Long Term Plan. We did this because our population is growing faster than it has for nearly a quarter of a century and this growth is expected to continue for the next 20 years.”

To accommodate, “future population and business growth” the Council wants to add another 20 hectares to the 40.5 hectares of The Pot that has been receiving treated waste water and other contaminants for the last 27 years.

The Pot is 110 hectares in total. Treated waste water and other contaminants are contained in a 7 hectare unlined “pond” prior to being sprayed over land.

Although stating, “It is envisaged that other properties can follow a similar procedure to receive wastewater for irrigation” in a discussion on alternative sites the Council admits it is already “a challenge” to obtain resource consents for irrigation to “other properties” during the summer months.

The Council’s applications also states, “The quality of the treated wastewater is well suited to land discharges and the land discharges are not causing more than minor adverse effects, so there is no driver for” upgrades at this stage.

However the Council’s Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040, “assumes that Levin will be a key focus area of growth in the future”, and over 570 hectares has been identified for housing.

On 17 August 2018 the Council announced in a press release that a Master Plan for 278 hectares was being created for a 2000 house sub-division east of Levin called Gladstone Green.

“Built over 20 years, it will eventually be home to 5000 people,” the Council press release said.

But the 2000 housing sub-division has become a 2500 housing sub-division in less than five months after mayor Bernie Wanden said the Government’s recently announced construction of the Otaki to North Levin expressway provided certainty for, “a proposal for 2500 homes in south east Levin.”

“We can expect more families to move here in search of a fantastic lifestyle,” he said.

Also, changes to the District Plan in September 2018 mean residential properties in Levin between 500 and 900 square metres can now be sub-divided to a minimum size of 250 square metres.

The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 policy on discharge of contaminants states: “Do not allow [the] discharge of treated human sewage to water in the coastal environment unless there has been adequate consideration of alternative methods, sites and routes for undertaking the discharge.”

The Council states its application, “relies on two discharge consents to operate which were granted by HRC [the regional council] in 1998.”

Next: What the community says in response to the Council’s resource consent application.

 

 

More revelations on NZ’s corporate LG model that’s controlling the democracy of your local councils … from the stonewalled outgoing Mayor of Horowhenua

After a very unfriendly ‘farewell’ if you could call it that, Horowhenua’s former Mayor, Michael Feyen, speaks out about what is really happening inside your local councils.

RELATED:
THE MAYOR WHO HAS HAD TO RUN HIS OWN MEDIA CAMPAIGN SHARES SOME INSIGHTS INTO THE CURRENT STATE OF LG IN NZ

Stonewalled from the outset, this Mayor, also a former councilor who blew the whistle on among other things pollution, and (now coming out for example, & curiously right after elections the issue of the cracks in the new HDC building that HDC declined to have examined at no cost). Add to that monitored & intercepted emails, a secret $1mill  payout to one of the local Iwi, and exclusion from the pensioner housing sale planning committee.  As many of us are aware democracy is fading into oblivion in NZ & we have the mere illusion only of the former status quo. This is a must listen on the machinations of both LGNZ (& govt?) from an insider. There will be more to come. See our LG Watch pages & search HDC in ‘categories’ for Horowhenua articles. EWR

The outgoing Mayor of Horowhenua was given a surprising ‘farewell’ this week

So Horowhenua’s outgoing Mayor was given a short shift from his office before he even arrived back on Monday, post elections. Bear in mind he would not officially finish employment as Mayor until the following Friday (18th Oct 2019). All of his office contents were packed into boxes & left outside his office door. A continuation merely of the stonewalling treatment he had from day one into his term. In my opinion, a clear message to all whistle blowers. It took 3 weeks for him to be able to enter his office back in 2016 when elected, and just hours to be sent off, as you can hear in the video, with a rude farewell that is quite frankly unbelievably ignorant. These are the people leading your district Horowhenuans. Unelected CEs NZ wide on obscenely high salaries that indicate the power they hold, have a fascist like control of your councils people. They are meeting behind closed doors and enabling the sell of of your (once) publicly owned assets. Things changed back in 2002. Do peruse our LG Watch pages at the main menu for other goings on around the country. For Horowhenua search for ‘HDC’ in ‘categories’ at left of the page. EWR

“SHARE:). Still Mayor to Friday. Went to sort out my office with both personal and HDC documents. Everything had already been boxed and was outside my door. Going through my stuff is disgusting. Looking forward to a place of positivity. Regards”

Just 17 months in and Willis & Bond property developers have raised the rents on the former Horowhenua DC pensioner flats

PLEASE NOTE, THIS POST WAS REMOVED FROM FACEBOOK BECAUSE IT VIOLATES COMMUNITY STANDARDS, I KID YOU NOT. EWR.

Willis & Bond with front company Compassion Housing raised tenants’ rents in July 2019 by $15 per week. These are the flats that were all but gifted to the property developers Willis &Bond, a sale that so many Horowhenua people vigorously opposed. At the time of the sale at a fire sale price the public were told the then current contracts with tenants would remain the same. Those were set to end however within 12 years.

news article wills and bond.png

Other changes introduced since the takeover have been the banning of cats for pensioners. Once pets that tenants currently own die, they are not allowed to obtain another. Since pets for the elderly are known to be very therapeutic. one is left wondering, what ever are Willis & Bond thinking?

Here in NZ we have entered a new era in terms of housing. We currently have 43K+ homeless and climbing, they are building hospices for the aged (hospices used to be for the terminally ill), your corporation that parades as a government is pondering on euthanasia, our state homes continue to disappear from availability as we speak (land banked, simply bulldozed as tenants tell me, or are sold to property developers) & Labour’s promise to replace them has been kicked a bit further down the road. Neo-lib economics. Profits are more important than people. Our forbears who worked hard to ensure all Kiwis were housed & fed would turn in their graves if they could see what is happening now.

Note: this situation in no way reflects on the staff of Compassion Housing or their quality of service as housing providers. They are doing their job as employees of the company they work for. However, when put up for sale by HDC it was promised the flats would go to a housing provider. They did not keep their promise, the flats were all but gifted to a property developer & many of us were not duped by the partnership that ensued.

EWR

 

The Mayor who has had to run his own media campaign shares some insights into the current state of LG in NZ

These videos are from the Mayor of Horowhenua, Michael Feyen. This is a ‘people’s Mayor’ who, like his former deputy Cr Ross Campbell, seems as much at home digging a haangi or drying dishes as he is wearing his mayoral chains. Just into his first term as Mayor however he had most of the councilors go public with a statement saying they supported not him but the CEO. For background to this situation read this article.  His selected Deputy Mayor was unseated just hours into his term for speaking on social media about what looked like insider trading (and that hasn’t gone away, see Ross Campbell’s recent updates). This is all not surprising in light of the fact that these two have blown the whistle on quite a lot of things they saw as ‘not right’ in the course of their work in Council. Council pollution was another issue they highlighted. And so come this campaign the Mayor has had next to no coverage by media. Stone walled & neutered as he puts it himself, he has had a difficult uphill battle with a council that seems more intent on the business of property development than the interests both he & his former deputy would have liked to focus on. A keen supporter of retaining the Horowhenua community housing for instance, Mayor Feyen was removed from the housing committee because he had a conflict of interest! (ie he wanted to retain the housing … he had seen among other things opportunities for employment therein for the young people of the town, the same as his aspirations to pursue trapping of pests in lieu of the use of 1080 poison and of investing in the hemp growing industry). The list goes on, not a list shared largely by his colleagues. The housing sold for a song incidentally, to a property developer who then partnered with an established housing provider with promises to maintain the then status quo, however the contract ends in 2029 or thereabouts & just 18 months in they rents have already been raised.

“Effective growth is a partnership between council, central government and private enterprise….away from the unsettling glare of public commentary…” explains one HDC councilor regarding all of the public excluded meetings by which the assets are being sold. (See this article also). Developers are also exempt from paying development contributions to Council. And nowhere else in the country besides Horowhenua does a District Council have a CE and a Deputy Mayor who are both registered property developers.

Listen further to the Mayor’s latest update, expanding further on LG in NZ:

A highlighted issue with this election has been the difficulty involved in voting (see Veronica Harrod’s info). This was the same last election when many folk did not receive their voting papers and the voting info office was frequently either unmanned or closed. Curious isn’t it?

So amidst the LG so called ‘sustainable’ councils up and down our clean green land (not) we have a raft of property developers busy with their public private partnerships selling up all of the public assets for a song. Then there has been the ongoing escalating debts of Councils. That has been an issue in the Horowhenua as well … it’s ‘good debt’ we’re frequently told. Currently, right on election time, the Horowhenua CE is away on holiday and has been for several weeks. This is the CE who was intercepting the emails of his staff for ‘safety reasons’ it was touted. Who paid a secret payment to a local iwi without the Mayor’s knowledge. Mayor Feyen is himself a staunch supporter of true partnership with Tangata Whenua & honouring the principles of the Treaty. Currently the Council’s real commitment appears to be mainly lipservice. 

 

Please have a listen to his videos anyway & peruse the info on our Local Government Watch Horowhenua page. That has not been updated of late unfortunately, there is much more than is documented there. For more recent & all info see HDC in ‘categories. See also Cr Ross Campbell’s page on FB, the Mayor’s page (Michael Feyen) and Veronica Harrod’s also. Veronica is an investigative journalist who has researched quite extensively the activities of this Council.

EWR

 

 

 

 

The public have seen little accountability from the Horowhenua NZ Trust formed last year

From Veronica Harrod

Last month Horowhenua deputy mayor Wayne Bishop’s land and property development company was sold 2.7 hectares next to land earmarked for transfer to the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust.

On 2 November Wayne Bishop Investment Ltd purchased half a hectare of a former industrial site at 56-62 Cambridge Street South for $480,000 and 2.7 hectares of land behind it for $360,000. It is the first time the 2.7 hectare block has been sold.

The 2.7 hectare of land now owned by Cr Bishop’s company is directly beside 7.6 hectares of public land owned by Horowhenua District Council at 72 Cambridge Street South earmarked for sale in Council’s November 2015 Property Strategy.

Last year Council voted to establish what it referred to as an “economic development trust” called the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust (HNZT) and transfer up to 40 percent of public assets to the trust as “seed capital” which includes the 72 Cambridge Street South site.

The Cambridge Street acquisitions are in close proximity to three other land purchases by Cr Bishop’s land and property development company in Hinemoa and Liverpool Street totalling almost 12 hectares of prime real estate.

Almost one hectare in Hinemoa Street has a rateable value of just $165,000 but a Capital Value of $1.2 million.

The valuation of Cr Bishop’s Speldhurst development, being built in stages on the 48 hectare former Kimberley Hospital site, increased by 430 percent in 2016 from $3.8 million to $20.3 million. The site is still listed as “leasehold land” on Quotable Values database, “meaning someone else has a freehold interest in the property.”

Cr Bishop was deputy chair of the Economic Development Board (EDB) and six former board members are now all trustees of the HNZT.

Since six members of the EDB were named as trustees Council has removed all references to the EDB from its website although there has been no formal announcement the board has been dis-established.

On 18 October 2018, five months after HNZT was registered, a financial services company called The Horowhenua Company was established naming all but one trustee of HNZT as shareholders.

Former EDB chair and trustee of HNZT Cameron Lewis is a director and a shareholder of The Horowhenua Company.

The other shareholders include former EDB members and trustees of HNZT Antony Young, Evan Kroll, Larry Ellison and Ron Turk.

The majority of councillors voted in support of Council’s chief executive officer David Clapperton assisting the trust but voted against Mayor Michael Feyen being involved.

The author further comments:

The public have not been provided with any information since the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust was registered on 31 May. Has land already been sold or transferred to the trust? Council’s chief executive David Clapperton has made conflicting statements. He initially said the public would be consulted. But then he released information that stated the public did not have to be consulted on the sale of $28 million property because it was “non-core” property; not significant or “core” property. Has 72 Cambridge Street South already been transferred to the trust? What other property has been transferred? A Stuff article of 28 June [five months ago] states “the first group of properties are expected to be transferred in the next few months.” The public were assured the trust structure included accountability however the public have seen little of that. Instead it appears the public know little to nothing that is apparently being done on the community’s behalf as a charitable trust.

People must now seek permission to film Horowhenua DC’s PUBLIC meetings – what’s to hide?

You can watch the discussion around this here at the publicly streamed HDC meeting. It will be up for some months but not forever (See other links in the POST SCRIPT at the end of the article). From hereon in anyway, if you wish to film HDC’s public meeting you must seek permission first. It’s about protecting staff, same as the rationale for vetting staff emails. Staff safety. Unless your name is Cr Ross Campbell that is.

Since Mayor Feyen was elected we’ve had live streaming of Council meetings, initially to FB also however with what appears to be a growing trend in censorship & control at the Horowhenua LG level (the intercepted emails, the stonewalling of the people’s mayor, the refusal to open the books, the shut down of a local land owner’s water supply … I could go on) the FB streaming’s been stopped. You can listen to the discussion around that at the HDC website. (Good luck on finding it, it was the meeting prior to 10/10). The available stream at HDC’s site appears to be edited by the simple fact it switches view periodically & frequently what is being said cannot be heard or cuts off midstream.

A local person who spoke in the public speaking time, outlined that he has been filming meetings for 8-9 years with never a problem. Independent filming meant there was always an independent & true record of the proceedings available should any other system fail.

Apparently at the tea break of the said meeting on 10/10/18, he requested permission to film and was denied. No time wasted in putting the said tweaks to operations into action.

This all also takes place around the event of the aforementioned Cr Campbell fearing for his safety & announcing at the last meeting that he had sought Police advice & from thereon in would be carrying a pen size camera to use if any threatening behaviour should recur. That of course went down like a lead balloon. Going by the responses, few were bothered for his safety, rather he was ridiculed for his precautionary measures. If you take time to listen to the meeting you will hear the many comments around that (hopefully).

In case you didn’t know Cr Campbell was assaulted in 2004 so he has every right to be taking precautionary measures. You can read about that event here. (At the link be sure to read the related articles as another assault allegedly relating to Council issues occurred in 2016).

Likewise, former Cr and Mayoral candidate Mrs Anne Hunt who also spoke on 10/10/18, told of how she had received death threats as a Mayoral candidate. You should hear that on the stream (hopefully). She spoke similarly the day Cr Campbell was unseated which media completely ignored. These threats are clearly not something to be ridiculed. And yet your elected councilors (well some of them anyway) seem little bothered about them.

So people, if you want to hear the public meetings & see for yourself the bad schoolboy-like behaviour of some of the councilors, you’ll need to be there in person. Streaming will continue but I personally wouldn’t be too reliant on its being the full uncut version you’ll see somehow. In my opinion anyway.

Finally, it’s not that easy to find & access the public stream on HDC’s website. It’s what folk have been complaining about since it left FB. I’ve just looked & can’t find it so had to return to the link placed on HDC’s FB page. Too bad if you’re not on FB. You could phone HDC for directions.

POST SCRIPT:

Mayor Feyen has just posted this link for the streaming, keep the link for future reference: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/7dRfxBRYt8m

Here also is a link for Part 2 of the HDC Council meeting involving restrictions on filming these public meetings.  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/117579383

The ongoing censorship of Horowhenua’s Mayor – whatever happened to democracy & free speech in NZ?

“My messages as Mayor … are very very seldom what I write … they’re always doctored to be worded differently. I like to give out some news and I usually go for all of the positive stuff, but this one really irks me… the last one, I didn’t even write any of it in the last Community Connection, and this one here has got the Deputy Mayor’s name & as I said, I wanted … in my one … I wanted to put in the Maori Apellate Court judgement which relates to Lake Horowhenua Trust …”

LISTEN FURTHER:

If you are new to the goings on at Horowhenua District Council go to this link for our coverage. You could also search Veronica Harrod’s articles by using the search box in the right hand column of the News page or go to her public Facebook page. Veronica has provided excellent coverage on topic. (Our LG Govt Watch pages are in need of an update however there is important info there on the history nevertheless).

A small window of insight that mainstream media predictably has never mentioned is the public statement made by a former councilor Mrs Anne Hunt who divulged at the first Council meeting after the last LG elections (when Mayor Feyen’s choice of DM Cr Ross Campbell was unseated)  that when she stood for Mayor in 2010 she was warned if she won ‘they’ would make her life hell. Media as I say, ignored this disturbing revelation, as did all those present that day. Nobody even challenged it as being untrue. You can read about that at this link. You will also see there Mayor Feyen’s revelations at that meeting, which mainstream also ignored:

“.… we simply weren’t accorded any democratic rights in the last three years. We had our access keys taken from us, we were dumped off committees with no explanation, people saw us constantly having derogatory comments  thrown at us by the past mayor, we were always interrupted when we asked questions, when we asked questions in writing we seldom got an answer.

Certainly disturbing how mainstream in my opinion slants their reporting in favour of the majority there. And if you’ve been to any of HDC’s public meetings you will have noted that there is frequently only one other person in favour of the new Mayor’s initiatives. That is the unseated DM Cr Campbell. Subsequently a Mayor with the majority of public votes is not supported by a majority of Councilors. As was stated at the outset, the law is an ass. (In this case LG law if you will).

 

Horowhenua DC does not deem it necessary to consult the public on the sale of Levin’s Focal Point Cinema

From Veronica Harrod

Focal Point Cinema to be sold to Horowhenua New Zealand Trust?

Horowhenua residents were told they would be consulted before public assets were sold or transferred to Horowhenua New Zealand Trust but that now looks unlikely.

The Horowhenua New Zealand Trust (HNZT) – a charitable trust – will take over responsibility for economic development from the Economic Development Board and plans to be involved in a number of projects including land and property development of public assets transferred or sold to the Trust as seed capital.

On 8 November last year chief executive David Clapperton said in a Council press release, “We will soon consult with the community about what property Council should retain. We also need to make sure the community understands that managing this property could include selling it if that is in the best interests of the community.”

Now he says, “The sale or assignment of property assets will not be…requiring community consultation unless the asset in question is deemed a strategic asset, involves an activity that will significantly affect capacity or cost to Council, or is a change to the Long Term Plan.”

“An asset, such as Focal Point Cinema, would not be deemed significant and would therefore not be consulted on should there be a proposal to sell or assign this building,” he said.

However, Council’s significance and engagement policy also states, “Matters…may have a high degree of significance where it is known that the decision will nevertheless generate a high degree of controversy. Council will make judgements on the level of support for those views when determining the significance of a decision.”

Furthermore no consultation will be required for the sale or transfer of 14 public assets in Levin and surrounding area, Foxton, Foxton Beach, Shannon and Depot House on Hokio Beach Road because Council voted to sell them in 2009 at a 5 August Council meeting.

Council’s property strategy states Council assets include 550 properties with a total rateable value, including land and buildings, of approximately $101 million as at 2014 including $28 million of non-core properties.

The strategy also states, “It is also important to understand that a classification of non-core does not automatically mean that the relevant property/facility should or can be disposed of as a range of other factors come into play.”

Non-core property includes commercial buildings and land, endowment property, forestry, motor camps, rental houses, rural leases and a “subdivision” category.

Under the Local Government Act if, “an asset has been unlawfully sold or otherwise disposed of by the local authority; or a liability has been unlawfully incurred by the local authority” the Auditor General may make recommendations to recover the loss or prevent further losses.