Hearings over ‘‘excessive’’ council fees
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
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.’’