They’re called Council Controlled Organisations but how much control does Auckland Council have over them?
On 20 September 2011, when over 100 homeowners in Te Atatu South received the shock news that parts of their properties were to be acquired for road widening, an accompanying pamphlet from Auckland Transport assured them “Auckland Council has authority to acquire land under the Act and to negotiate compensation for that land. It is responsible for ensuring that the compensation is negotiated fairly in the interests of both ratepayers and affected landowners.”
Fine rhetoric but what happens in practice? Auckland Transport has a project to widen Te Atatu Road for which Auckland Council has overall responsibility. Auckland Council Properties Limited (ACPL) is the negotiator. I have a property subject to acquisition.
On 14 September 2012 Alan Roberts of Roberts McKeown rang me to arrange a valuation appointment. It was agreed he would ring back in 3 weeks to fix a firm date.
On 5 October I was surprised to receive an email from Linda Holdaway (ACPL) saying “We now present this arrangement as part of a formal offer to you.” No copy of a valuer’s report was enclosed.
On 6 October I requested a copy of the valuer’s report.
On 8 October, upon receiving it, I rang the valuer to ask why he had not rung me as pre-arranged. He said there was no point in ringing me as Council had ordered him to do a roadside inspection. I was concerned about a comment in the report implying a lack of co-operation on my part.
On 9 October I rang Linda to ask if she agreed it was a misrepresentation of the facts. Her reply was “No, more a summary of the facts.”
At 9.12 am I sent her an email asking the following 6 specific questions:
- Did Alan Roberts tell you he had arranged to ring me in 3 weeks after 14 September to arrange a time for a valuation?
- Did you instruct him to do a roadside valuation?
- Why? What was the hurry?
- Are you aware Alan did not ring me subsequent to 14 September?
- Are you aware of the clause in the valuer’s report “The writer endeavoured to arrange a property inspection in order to complete the valuation but the landowner withheld his consent to do so.”?
- Do you agree that is a misrepresentation of the facts?
At 10.48 am Linda sent me an email saying “Your concern that there was a misrepresentation of facts in the valuation report – Mr Roberts has sent me an amended valuation report with the offending phrase on page 2 removed. I consider the matter to rest there and would ask that in future, if you wish to question the valuer on any matter, that you do so through me.” I felt the further comment in her email was somewhat cheeky. “If you are now in a position to allow the valuer to inspect your property internally, we would be happy to give him that instruction.”
On 10 October I sent an appropriate response insisting that any future appointments would need to be confirmed in writing. I sent a copy to Darryl Griffin, Manager Democracy Services, AC.
On 11 October at 4.59 pm Linda advised me “I will be in touch with our valuer and come back to you with potential viewing times for your consideration.”
On 15 October she gave me three viewing times which suited the valuer.
On 16 October I advised my tenants.
On 17 October my tenants confirmed 10 am Friday 19 October was OK.
At 5.26 pm I advised Linda of this, subject to written confirmation from her.
On 18 October, having had no written confirmation by 5 pm, I rang my tenants and cancelled the appointment. I advised Linda accordingly by email 5 minutes later.
On 19 October at 9.20 am Alan Roberts rang me, said there had been a problem with Linda’s computer and she had only just got my email. What should we do? I told him the appointment had been cancelled and I had still not heard back from Linda.
At 3.41 pm Linda sent me an email saying “We have decided to respond to your concerns by appointing a different firm of valuers.” She claimed “I did not receive the email until there was insufficient time for the valuer to meet your proposed time.” There was no attempt to answer my 6 specific questions.