Delta #EpicFail Noble Subdivision Consent : Strictly Optional

Election Year : The following opinion is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Received from Christchurch Driver [CD]
Sat, 27 Feb 2016 at 10:08 p.m. Last updated at 10:32 p.m.

Your correspondent would like to issue a warning to any Dunedin ratepayers venturing into this website : What you are about to read is hazardous to your stress levels. Please fortify yourselves with a nice cup of tea and a big saucer to catch the spills.

We return to the scene of the Christchurch Delta demise today to examine a few “timing and consent” issues.

These may appear to be innocuous words designed not to cause alarm, and indeed, Graham Crombie had assured Dunedin ratepayers more than once that the whole Noble Subdivision problem is merely one of “timing”.

It is now apparent that we cannot take at face value anything that is said by Mr Crombie in regard to Noble, and readers, yet again, not far below the surface, lies another tale of absolute Delta stupidity.

First a few facts to set the scene.

Noble Investments Ltd gained Christchurch City Council consent for 304 lots in May 2009. The subdivision had a small commercial area and a variety of lot sizes.

Crucially, the roads were designed to best practice with a 25m carriage way. The carriageways were separated by a median strip and it had recessed parking bays and cycle lanes. (No cycle lane jokes please!)

Delta started work in late 2009 on the site.

Then in December 2009 NIL (yes readers, NIL by name and NIL by value and many other measures !) applied for a variation to their consent.

This was no minor variation : the commercial area increased by over 200 per cent and the eventual analysis by Abley Transportation Consultants was that the main spine road would have more than double the original vehicle movements.

Readers, please hold your cups tightly :
Delta then ignored the original consented drawings and built the subdivision’s main roads and layout according to a completely NEW plan that had NOT BEEN CONSENTED to by the Christchurch City Council (CCC).

This was not for a day, a week or a month. Delta continued to build the main collector road THAT WAS 4 METRES NARROWER than the consented roadway for at least NINE MONTHS.

Linking back to yesterday’s post your correspondent surmises that the nuclear budget explosion must have happened in late 2009, and the variation being a desperate attempt to cheapen up the subdivision by making the roads narrower and the more commercial area was to pay for the stormwater work that Delta failed to budget for.

Let’s back the truck up here : Can anyone possibly imagine what the DCC would do to a Contractor that continued to work on unconsented work on a massive subdivision for a year in Dunedin ?

The DCC prosecutes landlords for adding an extra room to their student flats, not to mention trying to close down the Saddle Hill quarry which actually has some sort of consent.

In August 2010 neighbours complained to CCC that unauthorised work was occurring on the subdivision and things then got VERY messy. The CCC did issue a retrospective consent, but the Yaldhurst community and many CCC councillors are up in arms about the decision to grant retrospective consent. The Yaldhurst community are seeking a judicial review of the decision. The situation is still not resolved.

Oh, and by the way the December 2009 variation to the consent deleted a road connecting the neighbouring land that NIL had agreed to build, which is another reason why, five years on, the project is still mired in legal action.

Yep, Delta knew how to pick em ! Delta being Delta were too stupid to realise that if NIL were happy to clothesline the neighbour whose co-operation it needed, it would have no compunction doing the same to them.

But readers, that’s not all : there’s is more utter ineptitude :

The CCC got around to warning NIL at some point that any unconsented work was done at the Developer’s risk.

And the Developer, NIL, told CCC that it continued to work because ….., OF THE AVAILABILITY OF THE CONTRACTOR.

There is no way NIL could insist that Delta break the law and continue to work.

In other words, Delta continued to work on the site because it wanted to, because it was easier than finding other work. Another possibility is that Delta felt compelled to continue because it created the whole problem with its monumental stormwater mistake. However two acts of stupidity is still stupidity.

In an act of supreme hubris, it knew the work was unconsented but thumbed its nose at the CCC and did it anyway.

This, from a CCO.

Yes the Developer, NIL are the laughing stock of the industry and have no credibility. But Delta were their enablers. Delta were stupid enough to indulge them when any other contractor would have walked away in disgust.

Words have nearly failed this correspondent. (Apologies again for the caps – stress!)

So, let us return to the directors.

What did they know and when did they know it ?

Did they ever ask management the first and most basic question on a project, “Have you got consent ?”

or, each month, “are there any changes we should know about ?”

or “any changes to our risk profile ?”

Can they read a plan ?

Did they ever visit the site ?

Do they have any aptitude at all to keep tabs and rein in the management of a civil contracting firm?

This correspondent does not believe that the management of Delta, a Council Controlled Organisation, would have kept the Directors in the dark. They are bureaucrats, after all, and would be careful to pass on anything contentious.

On Luggate and Jacks Point, the Auditor-General actually commented that the board had been fully involved and Warren Larsen noted that more transparency and communication was required at the DCC companies.

In the troubled history of the directorial shortcomings of the DCC companies, this is a new low point.

Your correspondent, also, is incredulous that the ODT had never bothered to investigate any of the specific acts of stupidity at Noble.

The information is all public record. We can be grateful to What if? Dunedin that they have provided a forum for this issue.

The Noble Subdivision is an intermodal multiple train wreck.

Correction received.
Sun, 28 Feb 2016 10:27 pm

At the above post, your correspondent made two errors in regard to the reduced width of the main roads on a number of items :

The reduction in carriage way was from 19.5 m to 11.5 m, a reduction of 8 m, not 4 m….

The roads reduced in width was not the main collector road : It was both the main collector road AND the loop roads…. that is, the majority of the roading.

Delta advert p58 MarApr2011 canterburytoday.co.nz

Related Posts and Comments:
● 27.2.16 Delta #NUCLEAR EpicFail —Noble Subdivision : Incompetent…
● 25.2.16 Delta #EpicFail: Mayor Cull —Forced Sale Fundamentals 101
● 24.2.16 Delta #EpicFail —Noble Subdivision: Cameron, Crombie & McKenzie
● 23.2.16 DCC: DCHL half year result to 31 December 2015
19.2.16 Delta: Update on Yaldhurst subdivision debt recovery
15.2.16 Delta / DCHL not broadcasting position on subdivision mortgagee tender
30.1.16 DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses
● 29.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision ● Some forensics
● 21.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision
21.1.16 DCC LTAP 2016/17 budget discussion #ultrahelpfulhints
10.1.16 Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore
15.12.15 Noble property subdivision aka Yaldhurst Village | Mortgagee Tender
21.9.15 DCC: Not shite (?) hitting the fan but DVL
20.7.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA #LGOIMA
1.4.15 Christchurch subdivisions: Heat gone?
24.3.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA
23.3.15 Noble property subdivision: “Denials suggest that we have not learned.”
17.3.15 DCC —Delta, Jacks Point Luggate II…. Noble property subdivision

● 14.5.14 (via DCC website) Larsen Report February 2012
A recent governance review of the Dunedin City Council companies was conducted by Warren Larsen.

● 20.3.14 Delta: Report from Office of the Auditor-General
Inquiry into property investments by Delta Utility Services Limited at Luggate and Jacks Point

█ For more, enter the term *delta* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Noble Village Subdivision, Yaldhurst Road – Site Plans Dec 2009
Source: CCC Archives – Proceedings (March 2012)

NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-01
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-02
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-03
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-04
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-05

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41 Comments

Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, Democracy, Design, District Plan, Economics, Geography, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, OAG, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Resource management, Site, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design

41 responses to “Delta #EpicFail Noble Subdivision Consent : Strictly Optional

  1. Gurglars

    We must demand criminal prosecutions of management and directors of Delta.

  2. russandbev

    Remember the chain of command, reporting, responsibility and accountability in this mess.

    Cameron Grady, CEO of Delta – responsible and accountable to his Board
    Board of Delta – responsible and accountable to the DCC via
    DCHL with Graham Crombie as Chair – responsible and accountable for the broad oversight to
    Mayor Cull, Cr Thomson – responsible and accountable to the ratepayers

    Note particularly that this chain of responsibility and accountability makes it possible for the purposeful obscuring of information. But note particularly that when two Councillors attempted to get more detail from Cull, Crombie and McKenzie, Cull closed the questions down. Why?

    Note that the ODT, as pointed out, has been perfectly capable of finding out the detail that other reporters have done – Tim Hunter at NBR for one. Why are they not reporting to the standard that could be expected?

    Several things need to happen – firstly the OAG need to be involved asap but with a better determination to find out those who have been acting with reckless disregard with ratepayer money, and civil proceedings need to be lodged by a group of concerned ratepayers against all those who are being paid to be responsible and accountable.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    The ratepayers owe a deep debt to CD for this insightful information. As we all know, something is really wrong in the State of DCC as well as Denmark.
    The ODT has been seriously remiss (by incompetence or design) by not uncovering and prosecuting the story as it has developed. This disaster will ultimately result in a complete unravelling of the whole DCHL structure and put huge financial pressure on the city’s consolidated debt situation. It could be described as a ‘black swan’ or the Harland epoch coming to its logical demise. Question? Where to now??

    • Diane Yeldon

      Calvin: I persist in my belief that assets sales are the only possible answer. Calvin: Am eyeing the Dunedin City Gallery art collection now. Crippling interest payments must stop. There are plenty of things this city owns that do not bring in income and never will but cost money to store or maintain. I don’t believe Dunedin can afford to keep any such items if they are presently marketable. (Unfortunately the stadium does not come into this category.) This remedy for Dunedin’s financial woes has a ‘use by’ date attached. Because all round the world, other cities are going to get into the same state of unaffordability as Dunedin is now, if they are not already there. Once the international art and collectors’ market is flooded with ex-municipal museum and gallery stock, the prices will plummet. It takes guts to take action now. Because anyone who advocates it will get fierce criticism. Much easier to wring the hands and say there’s nothing that can be done about it. Or, like Cull and most of the current council carry on in a state of denial. But better to give up a little now to save the lot later. No, the city’s future will not be ‘business as usual’, because the global financial system being on the bring of complete collapse means there is soon likely to be no business. Shops have been selling commodities way below their production cost for years, with goods mostly coming from China. But for a number of reasons, China cannot sustain this rate of production. The true cost of the production of commodities will hit New Zealand like a sledgehammer once these Chinese imports stop. Then a person may very well be considered rich if they own more than one set of clothes, let alone something really useful (which New Zealand probably cannot currently manufacture) like a needle or a spade. Now, Calvin, I trust your financial acumen to tell me why and how I’m wrong. But if I’m right, Dunedin city has a chance of recovering financially (as other cities go down) to the point where it could buy its own art stock back and even better stuff besides. A mere fraction of the money saved on interest repayments could do this.

      • Elizabeth

        Words of High Treason, Diane.
        Over my dead body the bequests and purchases of and from the citizens and our built-up outstanding collections should be sold. You want to penalise Arts and Culture to salve the sins of the Rugby God. SHAME.

        This is not the Ren and Stimpy Show.
        This is not a sausage sizzle.

        Why not sell carved headstones from the Northern and Southern Cemeteries too.

      • russandbev

        No Diane, the suggestion should not even be thought of.

        To immediately get some money back Dunedin ratepayers need to start getting the millions owed by professional rugby – only today on Stuff we have a story where the “game”, read business, is spending money like water. This bunch of leaches who have walked all over the non-spined collection of bonzos in City Hall need to have a heap of pressure applied to them to stump up the millions promised but not delivered for construction and then they need to start paying for the City supplied exclusive training grounds and platinum plated change rooms and for the use of the bloody stadium.

        Then civil action against the equally brain-dead bonzos that have accumulated losses through ineptitude and worse. You can think of the list – no-one surely needs reminding. Claw back about $30m that way.

        Then an examination of the ways in which the lending has happened – is City Hall at huge risk from these instruments which Rob Hamlin knows so much about? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

        Then an immediate cessation on all of these extraneous non-core activities such as cycleways hither and yon until the debt is next to nothing and rate rises can be a thing in the past because of proper running of CCOs such as Delta.

        That should also clean out many of the unnecessary staff at the DCC and lead to some concentration on core activities. And to raise some extra money every weekend, those that have caused or supported the current mess would be the targets in stocks in the Exchange. $10 per basket of rotten fruit or eggs should raise a lot more than the ORFU provides to the City.

      • Calvin Oaten

        Diane, my financial acumen you could bottle and paint the head of a pin with it. In the case of the stadium – which is the big “kahuna” – I have opined more than once (to no avail) should be simply closed. Close the DVML operation, and simply advertise the facility as being available for use on demand. We know what it would cost per annum to handle the debt, depreciation and maintenance, and it would be simple to negotiate a number of use days by the principle user rugby, be it Super 15, ITM Cup, local or NZRU events. Then set the charges at a break even or better rate, take it or leave it. If rugby don’t accept then tough, no games in Dunedin. See who would blink first.
        Then put on the block all non strategic buildings and property, including the Wall Street complex, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch investments. Pay down debt with the proceeds, don’t treat it as a bonanza for other vanity projects like cycleways, aquatic centres and such like. Test the waters with an admission charge to the Otago Settlers Museum, but don’t overkill and stuff it. Don’t touch the bequests of art and other memorabilia, these are what differentiates one city from another and defines its heart and culture. Inside five years the city could be restored to an even keel. Likely? Not with this job protecting bureaucracy, nor the ‘numpties’ sitting around the council table.
        Diane, it’s not rocket science, it’s just called living within your means.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Eeewwwww. Price of everything, value of nothing?
        How are the banks going to collect the money a city owns? Sure – we ratepayers are in debt. Means v little unless it can be collected. Whose army. eh?
        As for cheap imported stuff – there are enough needles and garden tools in the households in my street alone to outfit a suburb. Clothes last a long, long time, then they can be mended and remodelled, I remember the immediate post-war magazines where “new” frocks were made out of old, using the skirt from one and contrasting trim etc etc.
        Diane, you sound like you’ve been sold the “other” panic, the alternative to walking out into the briny when climate change brings sea level up to your doorstep overnight.

      • Gurglars

        Diane, makes a point worth considering. She is suggesting selling non- performing assets. This of course includes the stadium, but could also include artworks that had not been displayed for say 15 years. Perhaps the public galleries could work towards realising cash to purchase really valuable artworks to make a nett improvement in the holding quality.

        Better to have a Ralph Hotere, Grahame Sydney and a Colin McCahon than a host of second or third grade english artists and such canny behaviour could lead to our galleries actually having paintings that would possibly attract artlovers from overseas. Paying tourists rather than calf muscled freeloading cyclists that are in fact mirages.

        I am sure that gallery managers would be terrified of councillors adding their trading profits to the general fund, but legal protection could be offered to preserve profits from annexation.

        Of course profits are open to opinion in artworks and one would want to hire gallery managers with a calling rather than an ambition. The museum has a record of hiring the latter.

        • Elizabeth

          You say:
          Diane, makes a point worth considering. She is suggesting selling non- performing assets. This of course includes the stadium, but could also include artworks that had not been displayed for say 15 years. Perhaps the public galleries could work towards realising cash to purchase really valuable artworks to make a nett improvement in the holding quality.

          ABSOLUTELY NOT. DUNEDIN CITY COUNCIL HAS EXPERTLY MANAGED MUSEUM ARCHIVES AND COLLECTIONS – HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY. THEY ARE OUTSTANDING AND VERY WORTH PROTECTING from CASH CONVERTERS.

          ….as CD would say (stress!)

  4. Elizabeth

    A councillor or councillors (DCC) should formally request that the Auditor-General commences an investigation of Delta and with that DCHL, immediately.

    The public and media need to know why Delta, a Dunedin City Council-owned company, proceeded with infrastructure work at Noble’s Yaldhurst subdivision without resource consent from Christchurch City Council, and did so for years.

  5. Elizabeth

    That investigation must be free of political interference from the mayoral office and the chair of the council’s finance committee.

  6. Elizabeth

    The resource consent matter is something ODT’s Chris Morris could put to Delta chief executive Grady Cameron in the next days.

  7. Anonymous

    Hey, this is almost as good as the time they changed Newton’s Coachways into an investment vehicle.
    Or the time the contracts manager sold the diggers back to the company.

  8. Bev Butler

    What was Mike Coburn’s involvement with Noble apart from being a Delta director? Did his private consultancy contract through his private company Ruboc Holdings include ‘expert’ advice like he gave re Jacks Point and Luggate?

  9. Elizabeth

    People may like to copy these posts and comments, or print them out, for posterity. It all helps – for the collective memory.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Good thinking. We don’t want anyone getting upset and killing What if? so as to kill the information contained here.
      By keeping posts and comments in many many places, all they’ll reap from heavy handedness is bad reputation and greater public interest in what they are desperate to keep hidden.
      It already works that way – ODT “sensitive” local council & DCC-related topics with no comments allowed online get increased views here.
      When trad media fail there is now thank goodness a range of alternatives, a range of ways to distribute information.
      We’re not in 1986 now, Dr Ropata.

  10. russandbev

    Outrage is justified and understandable but it will not change a single thing unless ACTION is taken against those involved. I reiterate that civil proceedings must take place if any of these people who have been, and will continue to be, unaccountable for the misuse of monies, resources and time that rightfully belong to the ratepayers of Dunedin. Unless this is done then they will continue on their merry way.

    • Elizabeth

      Yes, russandbev, I and others fully agree with you that that has to happen.

      My last comment is related to preservation of all discussed through the CD posts and related comments – should anything happen, let’s be clear, to this website in the face of further revelations. Let’s keep the information public. We need that assistance and community buy-in to keep this trucking.

      Screenshots showing dates of publication of posts and comments are the best way for the Dunedin community to independently sample and record anything at this website.

      Share the love.

    • Gurglars

      So what’s the budget for bringing a private action russandbev, whatiffers could pledge the funds and get a pro bono lawyer to assist us prepare the action against directors, managers and the relevant councillors.

      • Elizabeth

        Now you’re talking, Gurglars – for a moment there I considered you had been hit by a lightning bolt from Mars. Good to see you back on regular Earth. Crowd Source Funding for case feasibility and representation etc.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Yes, let’s at least explore the idea, gather some figures and see what’s feasible.
        One thing’s for sure, we cannot expect any tax-paid investigative body to lift a finger. Minister of Local Government, DIA, Auditor-Schmauditor, you name it they have been presented with facts, figures, desperate pleas to get off their imported no expense spared chairs and do something about Dunedin’s chaos, from the point where the Fubar Stadium would have been stoppable onwards.

        • Gurglars

          I spoke to an esteemed member of the legal profession today and the minimum cost for a lawyer to peruse such a case would be in the order of $100,000!

          The real negative if persons were to do the legwork is that should the case be lost, then the applicant would have costs awarded against them.

          The DCC and Delta would at ratepayers cost obfuscate until the applicants ran out of time, money or patience, so cost would be inevitable without a money tree.

          His suggestion was an application to the local government ombudsman to investigate the thefts and inadequacies of Delta management and directors. By theft I mean theft by incompetence or as it is oft described “Larceny by trick”.

        • Elizabeth

          Makes sense, Gurglars – good man!

      • russandbev

        I have no idea of the budget for such an action but one thing cannot be allowed to happen and that is that the very bozos that have caused this shambles cannot be allowed to use OUR money to defend themselves. They have a lot to defend, but it is them, and their highly inflated salaries and honorariums that have feathered their nests.

        My position re accountability is that it is PERSONAL liability that must be prosecuted.

        I have no doubt that there are those within our community and in particular within the What if? community that can make a plain case using the existing legislation to lay a civil complaint. It needs to be done sooner than later to ensure that those involved have to be held to account well before any elections.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Good and bad things about this discussion. First, the idea of selling non-performing, non-strategic assets (and yes, okay, leaving art, cultural and historical collections completely alone) and electing an extremely financially prudent council looks like an extremely simple, workable and readily understandable policy to present to voters in the coming election. So a ticket for ‘debt-free Dunedin’ might be the first step of a successful strategy. The bad news is that I believe that the way the law in NZ now works is that it unfairly favours the rich, powerful and well-connected and so cannot be trusted. Usually the bad guys just have to claim they were acting in good faith to get off. And any private individual who takes on a prosecution risks having to pay massive costs if they lose. I think the police have a responsibility to prosecute if they have reason to believe a crime has been committed. But I don’t think we have any system where the police can be lobbied or pressured to do this, either by individuals, MPs or political parties. They are supposed to be completely independent and that’s probably the lesser of the two evils, compared to political interference or malicious complaints. So maybe back to lobbying for a Commission of Inquiry. The outcome of one of those may possibly result in police prosecuting, provided it’s not a whitewash.

  11. Rob Hamlin

    The idea of flogging off the art is a dangerous one, Diane. I can see it now. A DCC sponsored, non-notified, public excluded ‘charity’ auction would occur – at which a small, familiar and well connected group of ‘worthy of notification’ people would acquire all the works for between five and ten bucks apiece, plus a matching donation to a local rugby charity.

    We would be told about it later by Mc.P., complete with gallery of grinning faces (but not of the buyers), black ties and champagne glasses. They probably wouldn’t even pay the catering bill.

    Hey, something like it happened with DCC bonds, and despite a lot of formal effort, we still don’t know who the beneficiaries of that ‘sale’ were – So why not with pictures?

    • Many of these works of art were donations to the city – FOR the citizens to enjoy. If I had any intent to donate a work of art or make any donation to the city in the future I would not be amused if the city flogged it off for a quick buck to cover its ‘cock ups’. I wold rather look for a rope or a spike and a public place for an ‘event’.

  12. Diane Yeldon

    Well, I guess What Iffers are all prepared should the DCC put it on a council agenda with only two day’s notice, the miserable statutory requirement. I agree Rob – as soon as you began your scenario, I thought of the bonds being sold to the privileged few in the know. I wish the DCC would do a ‘pre-notification’ of agenda item topics month by month on their website though. The present system is so counterproductive regarding public participation, it almost seems deliberately done to keep people in the dark.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Oh no! “… it almost seems deliberately done to keep people in the dark.” Perish the thought! As if, and similar expressions of disbelief.
      Transparency, remember? They promised it, they’re delivering it.
      Yours sincerely, Gullible of DUNrortin
      – gotta rush, they’re coming with the white coats and camel shackles.

  13. Gurglars

    I have written to the Ombudsman requesting that the office investigates Delta’s “investments” in Jacks Point, Luggate and Yaldhurst and in particular where there are cross director’s interests.

    Just as an aside, Jinty proposed and the councillors agreed not to invest in fossil fuels.

    As a ratepayer personally I would rather that the council and the Waipori fund invested in profitable ventures of any kind, rather than land subdivision.

    In October 2016, will the citizens of Dunedin vote for the status quo, a council determined to invest stupidly on land speculation and crazy green inspired attempts to attract tourists to cycle in hilly Dunedin when every other Australasian city is also establishing cycleways, or will the new regime, become an efficient administrator repairing infrastructure as required and managing assets and eliminating liabilities.

    Or am I a ridiculous romantic dreamer?

    {Bolding by the editor!}

    • Elizabeth

      Noted. Hooray. Others may wish to do similar in their own time.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Interesting question whether a council resolution not to invest in something should be acknowledged and adhered to by directors of council owned companies. And the interpretation of ‘invest’. For example, City Forests, a DCC-owned company, could not carry out its operations if it did not run trucks carting wood about – trucks running on guess what? And presumably chainsaws and saw mills running on the same. Nor could Delta make subdivisions without using trucks and other heavy machinery running on fossil fuels, to say nothing of pipes and roading materials. So if I make an analogy with drug use, the DCC seems to think it’s okay to be a user but not a supplier.

    • Diane Yeldon

      The Ombudsmen’s Office IMO has some really good people but is starved of funding and has limited jurisdiction. (I think the NZ powers-that-be want NZ to have an international reputation as a corruption-free country but don’t want to take this too far out of consideration for some of their business connections.)

      I think a council owned company has the same status as a private company as far as the Ombudsmen are concerned ie out of jurisdiction. I think the council can communicate with its companies only by resolution of the full council and all resolutions of the full council are out of the jurisdiction of the Ombudsmen.

      Which means a local authority can usually escape scrutiny by the Ombudsmen, unless the issue is about a managerial decision affecting an individual citizen. For protecting the public interest against crooked or incompetent local authorities the Office of the Ombudsmen is pretty much a toothless watchdog.

      So is the Office of the Auditor-General, as it must be really easy to cook the books to comply with ‘accepted accounting practice’ or there wouldn’t have been so many successful frauds that have passed audit (and that’s just the ones the public knows about!)

      The Ombudsmen’s Office will give advice (although their online complaints form would lead you to believe otherwise.) My guess is that they would say it is a political issue and so people should take their concerns to the elected reps.

      Here’s a link to Appendix G of DCC Standing Orders which is about PETITIONS and DELEGATIONS – hardly ever used, possibly because it’s not much known about. (Right at the end of the document.)

      http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/81341/Standing-Orders-Council2015_06_29.pdf

      A group of people can apply to the council to present a petition. Or they can ask a councillor to present it on their behalf. Obviously the bigger the group the more clout it has. I would also be willing to present such a petition and to collect names for it, supporting a statement like the following:

      “We, the undersigned, urge the Dunedin City Council to make a public statement fully and clearly explaining the financial situation of council-owned company, Delta, in the hope of re-assuring Dunedin residents and ratepayers that any further loss to this company can be avoided by prudent action as soon as possible.” (ends … and any tweaking welcome.)

      CEO and/or Mayor can just refuse to accept such a petition but that would look pretty bad. According to DCC’s own Standing Orders, they are supposed to value and encourage public participation. University Chaplain, Greg Hughson’s opening prayer last meeting was very sly – he prayed that they would actually carry out all the good and worthy things they have resolved to do. Walk the talk.

      • Elizabeth

        Diane, the horse has likely bolted where Delta is concerned (in strange business arrangements/ partnering) however the first part of the sentence holds of course.

        We, the undersigned, urge the Dunedin City Council to make a public statement fully and clearly explaining the financial situation of council-owned company, Delta, in the hope of re-assuring Dunedin residents and ratepayers that any further loss to this company can be avoided by prudent action as soon as possible.”

        CD is working on further information for next #EpicFail post – it may help you think about potential wording for your petition.

        There’s no lack of information this end – it’s more about the order and prioritisation we give it at What if? to keep readers easily and properly informed. Given sources are generous.

        • Elizabeth

          Also, I’m not sure DCC is capable of fully and clearly explaining Delta’s financial position and where the company has been since 2009.

          The Delta board of directors (past and present) require closest scrutiny.

          And their “friends”. Another shortlist of Southern gentlemen.

  14. Colin

    CD, thanks for exposing the construction of grossly non-complying roads by Noble Investment Ltd (NIL) and Delta, and the subsequent retrospective consenting of them by the Christchurch City Council (CCC) Resource Management Consenting team. Many have been seriously affected by this oppressive and costly saga for years; I can fill in some gaps for you…

    The spine and loop roads in the Noble subdivision were later found by an *Independent Safety Audit voted for by the Elected Council to have “serious safety issues that cause frequent serious injury and death” (*Dr Shane Turner and other traffic experts).

    It’s true that CCC staff advocated for the developer NIL, and for the construction of the non-consented seriously unsafe roads “at the developers risk”.

    CCC staff then spent likely hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars fighting to oppress affected parties and the public of their legal rights under the Resource Management Act (RMA) so as to support and retrospectively consent the dangerous roads non-notified, and vest them.

    The same staff then engaged lawyers to defend their process and strongly recommended to the Elected Council NOT to get the Safety Audit done.

    CCC Staff strongly recommended to the Elected Council that they accept the vesting of the seriously unsafe roads regardless of the outcome of the Independent Safety Audit.

    To back up a bit, the Head of CCC’s Resource Consent department along with another CCC Senior Resource Consent Manager, both of whom had advocated for the construction of the roads without a consent, visited a traffic engineer and instructed him that if he wanted the commission to review the built Noble road network that he would have to NOT review the main narrow spine road, and “could he do that?” Only when the engineer confirmed he could was he given the job to do so/NOT do so.

    The CCC Resource Consent Staff Report then advised their selected commissioner decision maker that their “independent” traffic engineer had “particularly” reviewed the spine road. The CCC staff report includes:-

    “Mr Wright’s assessment has focused on traffic generation and associated effects on the road network, IN PARTICULAR the layout and performance of the SPINE road and intersection with Yaldhurst Road.”
    And:-
    “The layout of the SPINE road has been carefully examined and Wright has not raised any concerns in respect of the CARRIAGEWAY WIDTH. Adverse effects are NOT anticipated in this regard.” [EMPHASIS ADDED]

    By CCC staff tailoring their road network safety review and report to their commissioner such that “adverse effects” were concealed, this enabled them to oppress the “affected parties” and the “affected public” their legal rights under the RMA to oppose the non-compliances and dangers. It raises the question, who would have been responsible for the “serious injuries and deaths” resultant upon the process to conceal the dangers, staff or CCC?

    Delta were fully aware that the roads they were constructing didn’t have legal consent and were 7.5m narrower than required (11.5m in lieu of 19m). It was 19 months from the December 2009 variation application until the July 2011 retrospective consent in which time Delta constructed the roads (and yes, the narrow roads also had to cater for double the traffic as a result of residential density and commercial area increases – also consented non-notified).

    Other major variations CCC staff have obliged NIL with non-notified, including the inadequate stormwater infrastructure you mention, have made the private stakeholders’ subdivisions within the subdivision consent impossible.

    It would be good to see the Ombudsman include a review of CCC’s part in this saga as well as Delta’s. Both Local Governments, CCC and DCC through Delta, have been assisting NIL to provide unsafe and inadequate infrastructure that makes the consented subdivisions of the private stakeholders land impossible and cheats them out of their prior interests in the land they transferred to NIL in consideration for this infrastructure.

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