Hear­ings over ‘‘ex­ces­sive’’ coun­cil fees

Waiheke Marketplace - - Front Page - ROSE DAVIS

Two Wai­heke property own­ers have taken ac­tion over ‘‘ex­ces­sive’’ Auck­land Coun­cil fees for re­source con­sents.

Robin and Anna Daw­son chal­lenged the coun­cil over fees that were ini­tially set at $22,284 for re­source con­sent to build a house on Don­ald Bruce Road near Kennedy Point.

A 50 per cent re­duc­tion was ap­plied to the bill be­cause of pro­cess­ing de­lays and the cou­ple paid the stan­dard de­posit of $2500.

The Daw­sons said in a let­ter of ob­jec­tion that the re­main­ing costs were un­rea­son­able be­cause they were caused by ‘‘vex­a­tious protests’’ from a neigh­bour and in­ef­fi­cient coun­cil staff.

How­ever, a coun­cil hear­ing com­mis­sioner has ruled that the Daw­sons must pay $8942 in out­stand­ing fees.

In the let­ter, the Daw­sons said their neigh­bour was con­cerned about los­ing part of his view if their plans for a ‘‘mod­est’’ twobed­room home went ahead.

The neigh­bour raised con­cerns that the Daw­son’s steep, coastal site was un­sta­ble on the seaward side.

The Daw­sons said this prompted the coun­cil to call for three geotech­ni­cal reports by Ri­ley Con­sul­tants.

The cou­ple also funded a geotech­ni­cal re­port from Tonkin and Tay­lor, be­fore the sta­bil­ity of the site was fi­nally agreed on and con­sent to build the house was granted.

How­ever, af­ter their strug­gle to get con­sent, the Daw­sons aban- doned their plans to live on the property.

The neigh­bour who raised con­cerns about the sta­bil­ity of the site ended up buy­ing it.

Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions team man­ager Robert An­drews said in a re­port that the fees were rea­son­able and should be paid.

‘‘In hind­sight, it would be easy to have avoided much of the cost associated with re­port­ing and in par­tic­u­lar geotech­ni­cal re­views,’’ An­drews said.

Hear­ing com­mis­sioner Leigh Mcgre­gor found that al­though the coun­cil plan­ner spent time work­ing on the neigh­bour’s con­cerns, over­all the charges were jus­ti­fied.

Leighton and Robyn Lan­g­ley have also taken ac­tion over the coun­cil charg­ing $11,811 for re­source con­sent for a house on Sev­enth Av­enue in One­tangi.

The hear­ing com­mis­sion­ers have not yet de­cided whether they will up­hold the fees the Lan­g­leys were charged.

‘‘In hind­sight, it would be easy to have avoided much of the cost.’’ Robert An­drews

rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

Phar­ma­cies are among the worst up-sell­ers in re­tail.

Their shelves should be packed with pills, cap­sules and creams backed by med­i­cal sci­ence, not purse-de­plet­ing place­bos, un­needed multi-vi­ta­mins, and her­bal ex­tracts sci­ence has not proven ben­e­fi­cial.

I was, I ad­mit, grumpy when these thoughts passed through my fogged brain.

I had the flu, which had turned into a lung in­fec­tion. I was wait­ing for my anti-bi­otics and steroids so I could go home and suf­fer in peace.

I didn’t de­serve my suf­fer­ing. I’d had a flu shot.

In a phar­macy most of the good stuff is be­hind the phar­ma­cist’s counter.

These are the medicines that have passed through rig­or­ous test­ing, and are pre­scribed by doc­tors.

But phar­macy shelves are filled with stuff no self-re­spect­ing clin­i­cian would en­dorse. These are the prod­ucts for un­qual­i­fied self-pre­scribers and the wor­ried well.

Some were sold un­der guiltin­duc­ing signs pos­ing ques­tions like: ’’Could you be do­ing more to pro­tect your fam­ily’s health this win­ter?’’

Other pills and elixirs were sold with claims they ‘‘pro­moted’’ or ‘‘sup­ported’’ fam­ily health.

These non-spe­cific claims won’t get their mak­ers into trou­ble un­der the Fair Trad­ing Act, or the Medicines Act, but if those are the best claims the mak­ers can make, I say keep your money in your wal­let.

Pseudo-medicines are costly. It’d be easy to get a $50 a month pill and ex­tract habit, or spend $60 get­ting ‘‘sup­port’’ to beat a cold.

Med­i­cal sci­ence has con­cluded most peo­ple don’t ben­e­fit from vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments, though there are some sit­u­a­tions when your doc­tor may rec­om­mend them.

Gen­er­ally, they are a waste of your money, as are many of the ‘‘su­per foods’’ and ex­pen­sive di­ets that get pro­moted.

Aus­tralian pro­fes­sor of medicine Mer­lin Thomas has just pub­lished The Longevity List, a book de­signed to show peo­ple how to live a long and healthy life.

His con­clu­sion is su­per­food fads are ‘‘mostly a mar­ket­ing ploy’’ and ‘‘those who take vi­ta­mins and other nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments of­ten end up with worse health out­comes than those who do not.’’

My read­ing of the pro­fes­sor’s longevity list is this: Eat some chocolate, keep your diet sen­si­ble and low on pro­cessed food, sleep well, ex­er­cise, spend time out of doors, don’t smoke, stay off drugs, main­tain a sen­si­ble weight, seek out love, and be mod­er­ate with the booze.

The great thing about that pre­scrip­tion is all the stuff you can save money on- su­per­foods, di­ets, vi­ta­mins sup­ple­ments, fags, il­le­gal drugs, snack-food and soft drinks.

Far from ru­in­ing your life, avoid­ing this junk will make it bet­ter, longer, health­ier and cheaper.

You’ll also need much less doc­tor-pre­scribed medicine.

Back to the phar­macy. Just as the sen­si­ble shop­per ig­nore the con­fec­tionary and soft drink aisles at the su­per­mar­ket, so too can they ig­nore most of what’s on phar­ma­cies’ shelves.

In­stead, they can keep their money in their pocket where it will ‘‘pro­mote’’ their wealth, not ‘‘sup­port’’ some­one else’s.

‘‘Med­i­cal sci­ence has con­cluded most peo­ple don't ben­e­fit from vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments.’’

Auck­land Coun­cil ini­tially charged more than $22,000 for re­source con­sent for a house on this Wai­heke Is­land property. ROSE DAVIS/STUFF

Spend your money on veges, not pills. 123RF

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