Low-rent flats’ fu­ture still up in the air

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

The fu­ture of coun­cil-owned flats in Ti­tahi Bay re­main in limbo, thanks to the Pub­lic Works Act.

A de­ci­sion on whether Porirua City Coun­cil would sell the 26 lowrent Moana Court flats to a so­cial ser­vice provider or re­tain own­er­ship and man­age­ment was ex­pected at a meet­ing last week.

How­ever, Moana Ct res­i­dents Dave Fletcher and Robert Ov­erend raised sec­tion 40 of the Pub­lic Works Act (PWA), which states land ‘‘no longer re­quired for a pub­lic work’’ must be first of­fered back to the for­mer own­ers or their suc­ces­sors first.

The coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Simp­son said the PWA was a ‘‘ difficult piece of leg­is­la­tion’’ and is­sues such as the change in land use un­der the coun­cil’s own­er­ship – from farm­ing to so­cial hous­ing – had to be con­sid­ered.

Ques­tions from coun­cil­lors ‘‘can’t be an­swered’’ without le­gal ad­vice, he said.

PCC strat­egy and plan­ning gen­eral man­ager Moira Lawler said go­ing back to the orig­i­nal own­ers – be­lieved to be a long-stand­ing Ti­tahi Bay fam­ily – could take some time.

‘‘Un­der the [PWA] they would be in­vited to buy the prop­erty at mar­ket value.’’

Coun­cil­lor Euon Mur­rell still wanted to progress the pro­posed sell of the flats to a so­cial ser­vice provider and took um­brage at com­ments Mr Fletcher and Mr Ov­erend had made to the me­dia.

‘‘They have in­ferred a num­ber of things and there is scare­mon­ger­ing go­ing on that is not help­ing this process.

‘‘The pe­ti­tion [ Mr Fletcher has or­gan­ised to stop any sale of Moana Court] is mis­lead­ing and I sup­port the ac­tions of this coun­cil.’’

It was de­cided, af­ter ad­vice from Mr Simp­son, that the state­ment of pro­posal to lease or sell the flats would lie on the ta­ble, with an­other re­port – con­tain­ing le­gal opin­ions – ex­pected back in a month’s time.

The pro­posal notes PCC’s de­sire for on­go­ing so­cial hous­ing pro­vided at Moana Court, but says this is not ‘‘ an ef­fec­tive use of ratepayer fund­ing’’ for the fu­ture.

Rent is 70 per cent of the mar­ket rates and while $630,000 was set aside for up­grades in the 2009-19 PCC Long Term Plan, this has been slashed to $350,000 in the 2012-22 plan for ‘‘ ur­gent main­te­nance’’ only.

Th­ese funds could only be found by in­creas­ing rates, coun­cil or the rent charged, ac­cord­ing to the pro­posal.

Mr Fletcher said sale of Moana Ct could lead to a ‘‘na­tional scan­dal’’ as the coun­cil could not guar­an­tee what new own­ers would do with the flats.

Fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion to post­pone any rul­ing, he said there was still ‘‘zero cer­tainty’’ for res­i­dents who would be sub­jected to an­other month of ‘‘wait­ing and watch­ing’’.

Coun­cil­lor Euon Mur­rell

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