Following an article in the Western Leader on 1 March 2011, entitled “Hulse backtracks on who owns film studio property” Penny Hulse sent me the following email:
“The point I was making all along Gary is that we own via the company, the land and buildings and the business. If the choice is made to sell the whole going concern we still get our share. The issues with Tony Tay and his company liquidation are not an issue, they only are acting as a catalyst for one shareholder wanting to obtain his funds from Tay. This has not changed and this is what I explained to the paper.
What else do you want me to say? I don’t know how many more times we have to have this debate. The way forward for the studios is in the hands of the council and I am fully supportive of us taking a good hard look at the future of the business in the light of the revaluation (which I was advised of last week) but in the meantime the west has had jobs and substantial economic benefit from the film industry and that was all we ever wanted.”
Let’s get a few matters straight.
Penny Hulse was part of a Council that voted on resolutions at a meeting that excluded the public, to sell the land and buildings of Henderson Valley Studios in exchange for a minority shareholding in a joint-venture company. That meeting was held on 25th May 2005. Whether or not the Councillors fully understood what they were voting for is another matter but the fact is that they voted as they did.
- By excluding the public, they removed the possibility of any ratepayer input.
- The decision to become a minority shareholder, removed the requirement for public accountability under the 2002 Local Government Act.
Here are the relevant decisions from minute 902/2005 moved by Cr Battersby and seconded by Cr Flaunty.
1. That the Council agrees to sell all the land situated at 40 Henderson Valley Road, Henderson being all the land comprised in Certificates of Title 363/45, 360/233, 261/10, 819/28, 820/275, 1128/265, 1126/181 and 126A/59 (North Auckland Registry), and being the land and buildings currently comprising the Henderson Valley Studios to the proposed joint-venture company (currently referred to as the Studio Company) subject to a minimum of $6million private cash equity being invested in the proposed joint-venture company and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise approval of these private investors.
- That the Council restricts its shareholding in the proposed joint-venture property and management companies respectively, to a maximum of 49.99 percent.
I raised concerns about Tony Tay’s involvement in June 2010, when yet another of his companies went into liquidation. In July 2010 two Waitakere City Councillors told me that if the Film Studios were to be sold there would be a queue of willing buyers.
On 8th July 2010 I addressed the Henderson Community Board on the matter.
On 11th July 2010 Penny Hulse sent me an email saying “The advice that we have is that we are secure and the issues that Tony Tay is having with some of his wider investments have no impact on the Film Studios.”
The problem is that ratepayers now own a depreciating asset that they were compelled to fund without choice.
Input: Waitakere City Council $6m
Tony Tay Film Ltd $7.5m
Government Contribution (MRI) $1m
Estimated current market value $7m
Auckland Council’s share (44.44%) $3.11m
This has to be one of the most compelling arguments against public/private partnerships.