Tag Archives: Otaki

Expressway past Levin is a high stakes game to HDC’s in-house Economic Development Board

From Veronica Harrod

Expressway past Levin a high stakes game

The land and property development agenda of Horowhenua District Council and council’s in-house economic development board would implode if the New Zealand Transport Agency decides not to proceed with the expressway past Levin demonstrating just how high the stakes are.

Otaki electorate MP Nathan Guy, a National Party MP, brought along National Party leader Simon Bridges and new transport minister Jami-Lee Ross to the second Levin public meeting Mr Guy has held in the last six weeks pushing for the expressway to proceed. Mr Bridges was the transport minister under the former National led Government.

The motivations of Mr Guy, in particular, are questionable in light of council’s role in land and property development which is entirely based on a November 2015 New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report commissioned by the council and the board called, “Investment in transport infrastructure: Effects on economic and demographic outlook.”

A July 6, 2016 council agenda states, “The assessment determined that the Wellington National Corridor investment represents a ‘free hit’ to Horowhenua, and creates an opportunity for the district to target population growth, employment, and economic activity levels significantly higher than both otherwise and previously expected.”

Council’s chief executive David Clapperton and economic development manager Shanon Grainger have repeatedly used forcasted growth statistics included in the NZIER report as a justification for rolling out an explosion in the number of land and development projects across the district.

Without the economic justification’s provided for in the NZIER report difficult questions would be asked of council about its close and secretive relationship with the economic development board, whose members have multimillion dollar interests in land and development and construction industries.

Council draft and consultation documents that rely on the expressway proceeding include council’s 20 year Long Term Plan, the Horowhenua growth strategy 2040 and the yet-to-be released Levin Town Centre Plan.

According to the Quotable Values database Mr Guy also has a significant amount of land and property interests in the north east sector of Levin at Koputaroa, one of the preferred expressway routes, which equates to at least $6 million over eight separate lots. The sale date of two further purchases he made in this sector is withheld from the Quotable Value database so have not been included.

If the expressway does proceed this means Mr Guy could potentially financially benefit from the expressway either through the sale of land confiscated under the Public Works Act or land and property development projects on land he owns next to the expressway route.

The decision made by NZTA could be a game changer for Horowhenua with residents facing unsustainable rates rises due to land and property development and associated negative environmental effects from an explosion in new builds connecting to an essential infrastructure council’s LTP states is ageing and end of life.

According to council’s 20 year draft and consultation documents there are no plans by council to consult the community on an economic development strategy moving into the future even though the public were not consulted on the now expired 2014-2017 economic development strategy that continues to be applied by the council.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, suit
Photo, from left, Otaki MP Nathan Guy, former Prime Minister Bill English and former Horowhenua District Council mayor Brendan Duffy at an Electra After 5 event.

Findings and assessments from the NZIER report were presented at an “After 5” event on 24 March 2016.

HDC’s master plan revealed … they’re about to sell off more of Horowhenua’s assets

A benign sounding partnership/Trust is to be formed to sell more of Horowhenua’s assets, outlined here in another of Veronica Harrod’s  excellent articles. If you watch a video I featured a few months back at the time the sales were first announced, you’ll see what ‘Public Private Partnerships’ are really about. Joan Veon (in the video) studied governmental changes world wide during the ’90s when she worked with the UN. She attended a conference hosted by Al Gore proposing changes to government in which the tax payer citizens were referred to as ‘customers’. She traveled internationally & later lectured on these topics. She sheds a whole lot of light on the smoke and mirrors going on in local councils right now that have their origins in plans made more than two decades ago. The plan is rolling out in plain sight if you care to look below the surface rhetoric. The smoke & mirrors apply particularly with regard to the sale of assets. The video is a short watch (13 mins) and well worth the time.  Note also, when I added Joan Veon’s video in the Facebook comments below Veronica’s original posting of her article, it was immediately removed by Facebook as spam. Now doesn’t that tell you something? If you’re really interested get hold of Joan’s book called The Sustainable Prince (she mentions it at the end of the video) in which she explains the public private partnerships plus the ‘sustainable’ scam. (Witness our now trashed waterways under the ‘sustainable development’ lie). And finally, of course the new Government will support this. I will be very surprised if they don’t.   EnvirowatchRangitikei

 

Horowhenua District Council’s Master Plan revealed

By Veronica Harrod

The most damning evidence to date that Horowhenua residents live in ‘tail wags the dog’ political environment is the district council’s proposed sponsorship of a “Charitable Community Trust” dedicated to rolling out a Master Plan initiated by the economic development board.

The 49 page “HDC-Project-Lift-Master-Plan-FINAL” contains a time line which states, “On 12 April, 2016 Horowhenua Economic Development Board introduced [the Master Plan] concept and on 13 April 2016 [former] Mayor Brendan Duffy and chief executive David Clapperton [held a] discussion on the role of Horowhenua District Council and related ownership, leadership, and governance of the project.”

Full support pledged from the council includes providing $259,400 of funding and in-kind support such as “lending venues for labs and gifting people’s time and expertise” but up to $500,000 was being sought from central Government.

So, how do the aims and objectives of the Master Plan tie in with council’s intention to sponsor the establishment of a Charitable Community Trust and what is it the proposed Trust intends to do?

According to a report titled, “Community Trust for Horowhenua: Supporting Information for the Council Strategy Committee” presented on 8 November 2017 by economic development manager Shanon Grainger the Trust would own,”in part or wholly, or in any other arrangement, a series of limited liability investment companies (or activities) [that would] operate on standard commercial terms governed by a commercial board of directors using a mix of private equity, bank-sourced debt and possibly Council assets or equity.”

External Opportunities listed include, “ensuring that local businesses and community initiatives benefit from the Otaki to North of Levin Expressway project” and, “local projects such as the Levin Town Centre, the provision of better water infrastructure and resources, the freeing up of land for residential, commercial and industrial construction.”

The council report says the first priority of the Trust “up to July 2018” is to roll out the next phase of the Master Plan. This includes obtaining, “Central Government approval of the proposals set out in the Master Plan; recruitment of appropriate experts…and contract a provider to deliver the [Master Plan].”

The Master Plan specialises in what is referred to as, “solutions for older people…through the development of fit-for-purpose products, services and environments – for example…planning opportunities like Levin/Taitoko’s spatial plan and housing redevelopment [and] shopping precincts that are easy to get around.”

“We will develop business cases to attract funding and investment [for] solutions requiring significant public and private investment…We anticipate the balance of public to private investment.”

Whether the new Government will support the Master Plan concept is unknown at this stage, but the political uncertainty presents a potential liability which has not been considered.

Although the Master Plan refers to older people in Horowhenua as “stakeholders” older people and organisations representing older people, including Greypower Horowhenua, were excluded from involvement in a deal that saw council sell land last year for the development of a new medical centre in Levin.

In a newspaper column councillor Neville Gimblett referred to the deal between council, the former Government and private enterprise as, “an example of the growth coming to Levin as private enterprise gains the confidence to make major investment in our community…away from the unsettling glare of public commentary.”

At a FCB meeting on 18 September 2017 council’s chief executive David Clapperton said one project of the Master Plan,”is the establishment of a new purpose-built medical centre,which will bring a number of key services and specialists to Levin and Horowhenua. As Horowhenua’s economy continues to expand, it can be anticipated that further large scale projects like the medical centre will flow into our district.

Seed funding would be provided to the proposed Trust through the sale of up to 40 percent of publicly owned assets by council but regarded as surplus to requirements.

Mr Clapperton said in a council press release published on 8 November last year, “we’ve acquired property for a variety of reasons…Some of it is useful to our community and some of it not so much.”

A key initiative of council’s economic development strategy 2014-2017 developed under Mr Duffy’s reign as mayor also includes rationalisation of council owned properties but refers to the intention to rationalise property as “an aligned Property Assets Strategy.”

Mr Grainger spoke more plainly in his report to council when he stated, “Over the years HDC has acquired a large portfolio of property for a variety of reasons – some helpful; some less so. The result is that, at present, HDC has approximately 40% more property than is required…In addition, a variety of property is leased or rented on a sub-optimal basis and thus represents a risky and inefficient investment.”

He went on to outline the “advantages” of the trust entering a joint arrangement with the council to develop a “disposal programme” of council owned property deemed excess to requirements. Mr Clapperton also spoke of council’s intention to “dispose” of public assets through a sale to the “Trust” at the December 11, 2017 Foxton Community Board meeting when he stated it was, “council’s intention to dispose of a number of properties which have been identified as non-core, with the goal of the portfolio being core only by 2028.”

The disposal of council property regarded as surplus would be, “executed using expertise retained by the Trust through (i) Transfer to the Trust at agreed rates; and/or (ii) Sold into the open market by value maximising means (auction, private treaty, etc).”

Veronica Harrod is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information on Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.

You can find more of Veronica’s articles by entering her name in the search box.

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Privatisation in NZ, a Kiwi speaks

Horowhenua Council Considers selling off large amounts of Council property by way of public private partnerships

Please Sign Our Petition to Stop the Sale of Horowhenua’s Community Housing

Stop the Sale of Horowhenua’s Community Housing

Campaign created by
Pam Vernon
EnvirowatchHorowhenua
Stop the Sale of Horowhenua's Community Housing

FROM THE NEW MAYOR, MICHAEL FEYEN who is in support of keeping our housing stock:“I support retaining community housing and obtaining the housing nz stock as well. HDC, iwi And Grey Power could form a trust or lease agreement:) HLC could conduct apprenticeships around building, plumbing, electrician, painters, etc to maintain and upgrade the increased housing stock. Great potential for HDC employment and community, with a business case:) I trust this petition gets support as it is vital for our districts future that we have affordable housing.”   

NOTE: In spite of his support the remainder of the Council is not in agreement on this.


THE PETITION
The Horowhenua District Council is tendering our stock of community housing for sale to an alternative community housing provider. Grey Power however, believes that provision of affordable housing must remain a core activity for central and local government…”The proposal to sell pensioner housing, a key determinant of community wellbeing, is a direct antithesis to community wellbeing”.

We also see the withdrawal of affordable housing for the elderly and disabled as a backward step especially in light of growing homelessness in our country. We believe that in the longer term, an alternative provider will place economic factors above caring for the elderly and therefore request that they halt the tendering of these properties for sale.

Why is this important?

In April this year the Horowhenua District Council announced it was tendering their stock of community housing for sale to an alternative community housing provider.

The justification given by councils NZ wide, including, Horowhenua, to cease providing housing, has been that Government withdrew its responsibility in this respect (including funding) some time back.

HDC insist they’ve identified that “the ‘most sustainable’ way forward for delivering pensioner housing was to transfer the stock and the responsibility to a housing provider that had the focus and resources to respond to the housing needs of the district.” At the same time they say they “… want to ensure that community housing in Horowhenua remains accessible and affordable, and is also connected to services that enhance social connectedness and wellbeing.”

Horowhenua’s Grey Power however, disagrees saying it is their belief that provision of affordable housing must remain a core activity for central and local government. “The proposal to sell pensioner housing, a key determinant of community wellbeing, is a direct antithesis to community wellbeing” they say, and “a council is in a position to see issues across its district and should have concerns about its constituency … a social housing provider will not have the same view.”

We also see the withdrawal of affordable housing for the elderly and disabled as a backward step. HDC state on their Positive Ageing Action Plan that “Horowhenua is a district that embraces its older residents as a highly valued integral part of the community”. We would like to see that plan include the option of the ongoing provision of affordable housing for the elderly, especially in the light of growing homelessness in our country. Handing over this responsibility to private and corporate interests is not going to guarantee they remain housed. A business will always strive to maximize profits and not to ensure the housing of the more vulnerable. It is simply not in their mandate. We therefore do not believe that any clause of sale that stipulates the needs of the elderly be considered will be effective, and that any such provision would eventually be discarded in favour of economic interests.

In line with their pledge to partnership, HDC have said that iwi and current tenants were consulted. Public feedback however is not confirming this. We would like to see some transparency on this pre sale history.

If you agree that the provision of community housing should remain a part of Council’s responsibility please sign our petition.

(1) Horowhenua District Council agrees to put pensioner housing on the market <http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/78903531/Horowhenua-District-Council-agrees-to-put-pensioner-housing-on-the-market>

(2) Iwi consulted on Horowhenua housing sell off
http://www.waateanews.com/Waatea+News.html?story_id=MTQxNTY=&v=173

(3) ‘Keep Council Houses’ <http://kapitiindependentnews.net.nz/keep-council-houses/>

(4) Government open to social housing options
<https://national.org.nz/news/2016-05-27-government-open-to-social-housing-options>

(5) Government, council seek interest from community housing providers in Horowhenua <https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/government-council-seek-interest-community-housing-providers-horowhenua-b-191828>

(6) Proposed social and affordable housing transfer in Horowhenua and Otaki <http://www.treasury.govt.nz/statesector/socialhousing/horowhenua-otaki-sht>

(7) Mayor Feyen wants to keep pensioner homes as income source
http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/86036270/mayor-feyen-wants-to-keep-pensioner-homes-as-income-source>


GO HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

PLEASE SHARE!

NOTE:
There will be a protest against the selling of the community housing, and the rolling of the new Deputy Mayor Cr Ross Campbell … outside the HDC building at 126 Oxford Street in Levin on Wednesday 7th December! A peaceful protest … but one that will send a clear message that those who voted for our current Mayor are not happy with what is happening. Please come and bring a placard if you can.

You will find updates or changes at the Facebook page, at the Nua , on our own FB pages and our petition page here.