DCC unit under investigation

Updated post 7.6.14

### radionz.co.nz Updated at 6:30 am today
Financial probe at Dunedin Council
By Ian Telfer – reporter
The Dunedin City Council has called in financial investigators after an internal review found irregularities in two departments.

Go to http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/246539/financial-probe-at-dunedin-council


Via Fairfax News:
Dunedin council unit under scrutiny
Last updated 14:57 03/06/2014
By Wilma McCorkindale
The Dunedin City Council has launched an investigation into its Citipark/Citifleet unit. The unit is responsible for the council’s parking services and also for its management of its fleet of vehicles. Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose would not be drawn on the reason for the investigation which is being carried out by accountancy firm Deloitte. The investigation had just started and was being incorporated into a wider review of key accounting practices within the council, which was initiated last year. She said it would be inappropriate to release further details, such as what has sparked the probe. A council spokesman confirmed the unit’s manager Brent Bachop died suddenly last month. Dunedin police said his death had been referred to the coroner.

More at http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/10114427/Dunedin-council-unit-under-scrutiny

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Citifleet, DCC, Economics, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property

47 responses to “DCC unit under investigation

  1. Talking about departments coming under investigation, how about the council itself? Cr Jinty MacTavish is at present in Bonn Germany at a ICLEI Resilient Cities. Conference, followed by a subsequent study tour of sustainable city initiatives. Just what she’ll find out about sustaining a bankrupt city will be an eye opener. Will it offset her carbon footprint travelling by aeroplane there and back? Watch this space for a refreshed and enthusiastic return of our intrepid councillor saviour of the planet. ICLEI is a look alike of the IPCC.

  2. Calvin, last time there was a hoohaa over Jinty’s jet setting she explained she self-funded it, and would do so again this year. Who are we to pay her blimmin’ councillor stipend with the boost of chair’s bonus and all other manner of glad tidings care of the ratepayers and residents (many of whom can’t afford to use buses or heat their homes each winter). IMHO we really do not need Jinty on this council or within cooey of it.

    Abridged. *sob

    • Elizabeth

      Site Admin.

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      Black Friday greetings.

  3. Phil

    There was an issue under the previous parking management of “kick backs” being received from local car dealerships. Trips to Bledisloe Cup matches in Sydney and so forth. Whether similar arrangements have continued under the current administration, one can only speculate at this stage. I understand that the decision to investigate was made a few days prior to the unfortunate death of the unit manager and that the unit was immediately informed of the investigation at the time.

    I never quite followed the logic of Citipark gifting ownership of the car parking buildings to City Property who then leased them straight back to Citipark at commercial rates. Citipark, in turn, then leased the operations to Wilsons. Seemed an unnecessary extra link in the chain. And expensive.

    • Elizabeth

      STADIUM PARKING / Wilson Parking….


      ODT Online Wed, 28 Jan 2015
      ‘Ridiculous’ parking fine: $5.90 a minute
      By David Loughrey
      A Dunedin woman has reacted to what she has described as an “unbelievable” and “extraordinary” $65 parking fine she received at a car park at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Emmeline Kendrick was just 11 minutes late returning to her car at the Wilson Parking site after a visit to the University Plaza Cafe.
      Read more


      Dunedin Community Law Centre managing solicitor Caryl O’Connor described it as “punitive” and “unlawful”.

      ODT Online Thu, 29 Jan 2015
      Car park penalty ‘unlawful’
      By David Loughrey
      Southern lawyers say motorists hit by a $65 fine or “breach notice” charged by a private car park provider at its pay and display machines have been handed a penalty that is not legal. The story garnered reaction from Invercargill to Auckland from people clearly angry with the company’s actions. A Dunedin city councillor has called for discussion on whether parking services on council land should be run by the council instead of private companies.
      Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### dunedintv.co.nz January 29, 2015 – 6:57pm
      Exorbitant fines puts national parking firm under scrutiny
      A national parking firm is coming under increased local scrutiny, for what some residents say are exorbitant penalty fines.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Fri, 30 Jan 2015
        Not a good look: Cull
        By Chris Morris
        The Dunedin City Council is to review parking arrangements at Forsyth Barr Stadium, after Wilson Parking’s $65 fines were slammed as ”exorbitant and unreasonable” by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday. […] As a result, council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose would be asked to review existing arrangements at the stadium ”and what options council might have”, Mr Cull said.
        Read more

        Stadium parking: readers tell their stories
        Volunteers bitter from harshness of $65 ‘fine’

      • Elizabeth

        The Commerce Commission is investigating Wilson Parking for its signs, pricing and the terms of the contract between the company and the consumers.

        ### ODT Online Wed, 4 Feb 2015
        Carpark firm defends $65 penalty
        By Wayne Thompson – New Zealand Herald
        A parking operator has defended giving $65 penalties to drivers who overstay by a few minutes, saying $25 of the fee represents its average losses. The Tournament company also says the grace period before issuing the $65 breach-of-parking-contract fees varies from site to site. Herald readers have reacted angrily to the practice and related their own experiences of the fee at Tournament and Wilson sites. NZME
        Read more


        ### dunedintv.co.nz February 4, 2015 – 7:08pm
        Your word on parking fines
        Wilson Parking has come under scrutiny for making users pay $65 for overstaying their welcome. The company maintains it’s doing nothing wrong, but strong public opposition has prompted the Dunedin City Council to review management of car parking at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

      • Elizabeth

        “Reject at once any suggestion that my client [Wilson Parking] is not ethical. Remember that the firm operates here in Dunedin only after a vigorously competitive tender process at the invitation of your very own Dunedin City Council, and what finer example of financial acumen and fiscal reliability could be found in this country?”

        Satire or truth, from Jim Sullivan in his opinion column, Nothing Too Serious (9.2.15) http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/332439/t-i-m-e-their-side-yes-it Followed by a very funny comment by L8Show Link.

  4. Anonymous

    That wouldn’t be the only set of kickbacks for Bledisloe Cup tests from suppliers to a large institution in Dunedin, from what I hear.

  5. Pedant

    Odd. Nothing in OD Online about this.

  6. Phil

    Yes, it seems to have taken a senstive turn and that may well influence the publishing of any findings. If there was only one person involved, and things are indeed the way they appear, then the appropriate course of action is to put greater safeguards in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Nothing to be gained by publishing anything. If there are several people involved (either inside or outside of the organisation) then any investigation needs to be public.

  7. Cars

    All have forgotten. The mayor says that no-one will be found guilty – of anything. Corruption theft, paying out failing restaurants, will all be awarded with a GONG. Of course that might ensure a knighthood!

  8. Cull proved your point so well by not taking Mainsie and Graham to court to defend the City against their incredibly snide suit for defamation, as a result of his loose lips – at which point, at court, DCC could have got ORFU’s shady books into evidence. Since he didn’t pursue this, Cull is fully responsible for the ongoing cover up of ORFU’s corrupt activities, misuse of gaming funds, the mess that was the Carisbrook property deal, and much more – now partly detailed in a ‘sealed report’ held by NZRU and DIA. Yes, you can get a Sir for defence or ignore of white collar (rugby) crime involving millions and millions of dollars – if you want to “make the stadium work”… While ensuring that ratepayers, to this day, pay directly for ORFU and Highlanders (professional rugby) overheads through utilisation of DVML staff, facilities and resources.

    Our Daaave, Liability Cull

  9. ### ODT Online Thu, 5 June 2014
    Dunedin staff to carry out council review
    By David Loughrey
    Consultants about to begin a review of the activities of the Dunedin City Council’s vehicle fleet and parking department will come from Deloitte’s Dunedin office.
    Read more

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Without meaning any slur on the Deloitte people, I think this is one instance where out of town people should be called in. Dunedin is in many ways a village – perhaps a collection of villages, not in the sense of geographical boundaries but of social bands, like those geological formations where strips (layers) of different soils and rocks are visible. It is too small a town for these layers not to be linked within themselves and to parts of the other layers, taking the geological metaphor, the places where uplifts and rotation of blocks disturbed what would otherwise have been simple stratification from coast to coast.
      So the links of other community and social interaction make it hard – difficult, and a stressor on incompatible loyalties – for homeboys to investigate homeboys in a way that could lead to some of them being “dobbed in”. Forget that the guilty and slipshod don’t deserve protection – within our social groups we do – don’t we? – cut our mates a bit more slack than strangers. We give their explanations more credence than we’d give strangers, much less than we’d give people who have been presented already as “possibly guilty”.
      It’s not always a corrupt thing. It’s because we are social animals, what we do to one member of our wider social group impacts on our relationship with all within that group.
      To be fully dispassionate one would have to be capable of uncommonly thorough putting-aside of all links and friendships. In such a small city I think it’s a lot to ask, especially in an “investigation” where the questions are not clear clickbox yes/no with no yes-buts or no-because-in-that-cases.

      • Hype O’Thermia, geological metaphor is very Quad4 of you. The upper strata are karst and not at all gneiss. I have just heard this story leading radio news (Sat, am). The last sentence (NatRad): “DCC says it would be inappropriate to say whether it ‘is’ investigating Brent Bachop”. This potentially huge story is being covered by Ian Telfer, Radio NZ News.

        {Updated post at top of thread. -Eds}

  10. Hype; you are a cynic. Why would you think that Deloitte, dominant members of the “good ole boys” club, wouldn’t be impartial in any investigation like this. After all it was they who gave a big thumbs up to the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, ticked off the Town Hall Conference Centre feasibility study and any amount of the DCC’s doings. King David has every right to have full confidence in any report they produce. Bringing in ‘pesky’ outsiders would not be the “Southern Way”.

  11. Huh Hype, whadda expect, a “gong” like Hudson?

  12. jeff dickie

    Expect another shameful sham of an enquiry, just like Controller and Auditor General Lyn Provost’s disgraceful look at the Jack’s Point/Luggate Delta scam. Yet another huge waste of public money. Remember the Stadium audit that was out by $42M?!!! Remember CEO Bidrose’s claim that the per annum Stadium running cost is a mere $9.15M, when the real cost is well over 100% more? Really these clowns couldn’t run a hotdog stand in the Octagon let alone responsibly handle tens of millions of dollars.

    • The council has emailed reply to Bev Butler and Calvin Oaten, following release of their figures for the annual cost of the stadium (see previous post 2.6.14). CFO Grant McKenzie has been asked to reply. We await Bev and Calvin’s resulting update.

  13. Elizabeth

    ODT gets a little more out of DCC on the review of Citifleet/Citipark.


  14. Phil

    My understanding is that much of the concern centres around the book value of vehicles being sold, the amount receieved by DCC for the sale, and the purchase price paid for the vehicles. Not a new problem I hear.

  15. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 26 Jun 2014
    DCC inquiry into missing fleet vehicles
    By Chris Morris
    An investigation into irregularities within the Dunedin City Council’s Citifleet and Citipark departments is examining the disappearance of dozens of council vehicles, it has been confirmed. The Otago Daily Times has learnt the probe was looking into claims a significant number of vehicles – possibly approaching 100 – had been sold, and some of the proceeds pocketed, over the past decade. The council was said to have 205 vehicles, together worth about $1.9 million, in 2011, but there is confusion about how many were sold, and how many replaced, since as far back as 2001, the ODT understands.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Weeks ago we heard it was about a hundred vehicles, then more recently two hundred. We’ll see.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        The lady is a misfit (thank goodness) who doesn’t “get” the city’s culture of ensuring enquiries don’t upset anyone by actually finding something nasty in the woodshed:

        ” ”The investigation is complex because we have said to Deloitte that they should talk to as many staff as they need to, investigate anything, and investigate all areas of that part of the business,” Dr Bidrose said.
        ”We want it to be thorough and complete.” “

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Funny the way things go missing and nobody notices. My grandmother frequently “lost” her reading glasses. The family went into search mode, no luck till one of the kids called out, “MUM! They’re on top of your head!” I mislay pens, keys and my reading glasses. Cars, not so much.

  16. Mike

    I’d like to reiterate my comment in the other thread – be careful what you say here on this issue, the law limits what can be said publicly before a coronial inquiry takes place – let’s not get Elizabeth into trouble.

  17. Elizabeth

    Site Admin
    Rule of thumb is stick to discussion of what is already in public domain. Any additional information received here will be closely scrutinised – there is a culture long known about at DCC and more widely across the city involving local businesses. As with other topics at this website new information is always welcome and certain names can be left out or emailed to the address provided elsewhere at this site.

    █ Alternatively, contact DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose with any sound evidential information you think may assist the Deloitte investigation.

  18. Anonymous

    Such a large movement of vehicles would seem utterly incomprehensible to have gone unnoticed.

    • Mike

      Yes shades of the Hospital Board ….even if you trust your employees, having systems in place that keep everyone honest are important.

      One would have thought that the first thing that Cr Thomson would have done after joining the council would have been to make sure that systems were in place so that this sort of thing didn’t happen on his watch again.

  19. Russell Garbutt

    One of the most incomprehensible aspects of this so far is the number of cars involved. I can understand that vehicles are required for certain functions within the DCC – building inspectors etc, but it seems to have been the subject of a lot of conversation over the years that DCC cars were used as personal transport a great deal – meetings organised last thing or first thing in the morning sort of thing.

    Other organisations like the SDHB also have a lot of vehicles for district nurses etc – it would be interesting to see how they operate. The University of Otago has very few vehicles as far as I can see.

    Usually in a business there is an early decision on whether to operate a pool system where all cars are bookable, or whether departments that have virtually a full-time need purchase and operate their own fleet.

    On the surface of things, a pool system would be more efficient, but it does put the entire operation under the control of the person operating that system.

    There is another aspect apart from the operation and that is one of capital expenditure and recovery from sales. Does the operation of a pool fleet also include the capex and disposal of assets, or does it reside within finance control? If all operations reside within the fleet operation, then there is the risk of little regular overview.

    All that said, I’m very supportive of Sue Bidrose in her quest to ensure that all aspects are thoroughly examined by an external auditor and to publicly report on the findings at an appropriate time. As she says, this is a tragic case, but it is ratepayer’s money involved. It gives credence to her views on the current DVML/Stadium investigation as well.

    • Mike

      Of course the same argument could be made for auditors themselves, at the rate things are going a full-time independent auditing team might be cheaper if it were brought in house ….

      I wonder how many cars DVML owns ….

      • Elizabeth

        “I wonder how many cars DVML owns ….”

        That has been asked of/by DCC. In light of any connection to the Citifleet/Citypark investigation.

  20. Elizabeth

    Welcome to the Coronial Services website
    The role of the Coroner is to establish when, where, how and why the death happened, and also to work out whether anything can be done differently that might prevent similar deaths in the future. If so, they make recommendations. Coroners have wide powers to examine the evidence gathered on each death when a doctor does not or cannot certify the cause of death.
    This site will help you understand how the coronial process works and what you can expect to happen.

    Chart of the coronial process

  21. Elizabeth

    Fascinating read. Bureaucrats in NZ court system need marched out….

    Some background on the law (and various interpretations of it) from a week or so ago:


  22. Phil

    I’m trying to get my head around the numbers as well. I’m assuming that the Citifleet stocks include for the likes of the Water Dept, Library buses etc. From memory there are about 300 people working in the Civic Centre, so 200 vehicles is a hell of a lot to service just the Civic Centre. Some vehicles were premanently reserved for particular people, but even so.

    The issue of “take home” vehicles has always annoyed me. The Chief Building Inspector does not need to take a DCC car home every night. He is not on the roster for after hours call-outs. Neither is the head of the Environmental Health department. On the subject of call-outs themselves, I would say that 80% of those who work in the Civic Centre live no more than a 10 to 15 minute drive from their home. Should they be required to attend something out of hours, it is not unreasonable to expect them to drive their own car to the Civic Centre, park it in the Civic Centre garage, and then take out a DCC car. It’s not a Health and Safety issue as they use private transport to get to their place of work every day. There is absolutely no reason why the car pool needs to get emptied out at 5pm every evening. Part of the problem, I believe, is that the majority of vehicles are unmarked. People would be far less likely to park up in the Countdown carpark on a Saturday evening if there was a thumping great DCC logo painted on the side.

  23. Elizabeth

    Perhaps reflects the number of years the ‘schemes’ have been operating, and the sweep of internal and external horse trading.

  24. Rob Hamlin

    One has to say that it’s probably time to look at the DCC operations in their totality for activities of this nature. We now have odd ‘goings on’ at DCC itself (cars) and DVML (TV’s and business apparel) – Not to mention Delta and its property “””investments””” on our behalf using borrowed money.

    DCTL for one is well overdue for a look. I am still not satisfied about the situation with regard to DCTL loans made to third parties. You may recall that the existence of this activity was denied until a few years back when I went to an open home and there had the title deeds handed to me, unprompted, by the vendor’s agent – complete with a DCTL registered mortgage interest on it!

    Once this document was placed in the hands of Fairfax (I didn’t bother with the ODT) denial was no longer possible. The scheme was reluctantly admitted to, but we were told that it had been ‘closed down’ and the usual refrain of ‘Move on, nothing to see here!’ began. Regrettably, most did.

    This ‘moving on’ still left a lot of unanswered questions – that include, but are not restricted to, the following:

    1) How much money did DCTL have outstanding on these third party loans when they become public, and period on period previously?

    2) When, how, under what circumstances and under what/whose authority was the scheme initiated?

    3) Have all loans now been retired?

    4) Were these third party loans entirely mortgages on the primary residence or were loans advanced for other purposes, such as property investment/speculation?

    5) What was the profile of the portfolio in terms of the size of loans involved?

    6) Who has access to these loans, was it DCC/DCHL only or were others able to access this scheme?

    7) By what authority did DCTL make loans to third parties who were neither DCTL employees (eg DCC staff) nor authorised business partners?

    We then come to two very important questions:

    8) What were the terms of these loans wrt interest rates, credit worthiness, repayment terms and other conditions and commitments?

    It was claimed at the time the scheme was exposed that these loans were made on the same terms as commercial bank loans. This simply begs the question as to why any employee would take up such a loan from their employer if an equivalent loan was available from a third party. I can only speak for myself, but I would need a very, very compelling reason (perk) to cause me to bank with my work! It seems to be a reasonable deduction that as these loans appear to have been issued in some numbers by DCTL that similar compelling reasons (perks) were applicable at the time to generate this level of take up.

    The final question is perhaps the most important of all:

    9) In the absence of any formal reported system and policy governing these third party loans within either DCC, DCHL or DCTL, just exactly which individual had the ‘say so’ as to who acquired access, and continued to have access to said third party loans?

    This one is super-important because secret perk schemes in any organisation are highly undesirable for two reasons. Firstly, they have a habit of quietly getting very big and very expensive very quickly. Secondly, they can act as the basis for a secret parallel power structure within an organisation that is both unknown and unanswerable to those who have either governance responsibility or ownership of that organisation.

    A mortgage at let’s say 200 basis points below the market rate might be a very big perk indeed if the loan is a large one (let’s say $400,000), amounting to a value of at least $8,000 pa. Any employee who is in receipt of such a secret perk, and who is aware of who within the organisation has the ‘say so’ on whether it is issued and retained is very likely to be motivated to do that individual’s bidding – even if it goes against their ethics, the official chain of authority and the interests of the owners of the organisation who are paying their wages.

    If the loan has been issued to an individual on terms or for purposes that an independent bank might not agree to should the ’perk loan’ be withdrawn, then the level of covert influence is all the greater.

    It is for this last reason above all others that the authors and ‘owners’ of secret perk schemes tend to be dealt with ruthlessly if they are discovered within private industry.

    At the very least answers to these questions should have been acquired and made public at the time that this scheme was revealed within DCTL. If it turns out that we are looking at something similar this time, but involving cars rather than mortgages, then the same questions need to be asked (and fully answered this time).

    One of the nicer aspects of this particular situation is that we are not talking abstract money here. Peoples’ eyes cross when finance is discussed and their attention swiftly wanders. By contrast having your car nicked (and just how much it pisses you off) is within most people’s immediate experience (certainly within mine). That should help immensely.

  25. Elizabeth

    ODT: Citifleet now fraud inquiry
    An inquiry into the disappearance of dozens of Dunedin City Council vehicles – and allegations of missing hundreds of thousands of dollars – is now a fraud investigation, council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose has confirmed.
    Read more

    Strength to your arm, chief executive!

    [see new post]

  26. Elizabeth

    A comment by Phil on Citipark and Wilson Parking, earlier at this thread.

    Perhaps read in light of Cr Lee Vandervis’s and Sue Bidrose’s comments in Saturday’s ODT on misappropriation of council funds by now deceased, former Citipark manager Brent Bachop.


    Wilson Parking at fubar —“A multiple of 43?”

    ### ODT Online Sat, 31 Jan 2015
    Editorial: Dunedin parking outrage
    OPINION The report in Wednesday’s Otago Daily Times about the $65 “breach notice” for overstaying the limit at a car park at Forsyth Barr Stadium has unleashed widespread outrage. […] there are two matters on which Wilson Parking has rightly been castigated. The first is the round-the-clock nature of some of the 20 parks around Dunedin it administers and the way many are ticketed when there is no pressure on parking. […] The second matter is the size of the penalty.
    Read more

    AVOID WILSON PARKS, suggests ODT ~!!

    • Elizabeth

      ### dunedintv.co.nz January 30, 2015 – 6:02pm
      Dunedin man shares horror parking experience
      With widespread criticism of local parking fines, a Dunedin man has come forward to share his own bad experience. He’s a regular user of the privately-operated carpark at Forsyth Barr Stadium. And he’s got some advice for the public, to prevent further disgruntled customers.

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