Auckland Transport’s New Broom

 

My first dealings with Auckland Transport were following my receipt of a notice in September 2011 advising me that part of my property in Te Atatu Rd was to be acquired under the Public Works Act. I found senior management difficult to contact and both the CEO, David Warburton and the Board Chairman, Mark Ford aloof and evasive of public contact.

 

With the commencement of Lester Levy as Board Chairman from 1 November 2012, I initially raised my hopes. Here was a new broom  — a chance for a fresh start.

Having had difficulty in getting any response from David Warburton re a complaint about a gratuitous letter from Michael Riley, AT (published on this site under December 2012 archives “AT Land Acquisition Communications”), I contacted Mr Levy but he said he regarded Mr Riley’s letter as “constructive”. (published on this site under Jan 2013 archives “AT’s New Board Chairman, Lester Levy”).

This was unacceptable to me and I sent an email to Mr Levy on 14 Jan 2013.

On 1 February he responded reaffirming his previous stance.

I replied on 2 February.

Mr Levy’s email

“Hello Mr Osborne

Thank you for your kind reminder, however this was not necessary as I had made a diary note to respond to you prior to your return from holiday as advised to me in your letter of 14th January, 2013.

I have sought further clarification from the relevant Auckland Transport staff in regard to the issues you raised in your most recent letter. After reflecting on this I have not changed my view that I expressed to you in my previous letter.

I would, however, like to make some general comments.

  1. Auckland Transport believes the owner’s best interests are served if their right to privacy in negotiations with Auckland Transport is maintained.
  2. Auckland Transport makes a real effort to ensure that independent advice is provided to owners. Many of our officers are themselves senior members of the Property Institute and/or Registered Valuers in their own right, but nonetheless, they purposefully do not involve themselves in the assessment of compensation which is outsourced to truly independent, skilled professionals who have up-to-date knowledge of property markets.
  3. It is the nature of property acquisitions for public works (under the Public Works Act 1981), that Registered Valuers do not calculate the value of property (as they typically do), but rather, are asked to assess compensation for loss.
  4. Public Works Act compensation is complex and is not based on a simple per square metre rate – this is compensation for loss, which encompasses a myriad of factors.

I refer back to a statement that I made in my previous e-mail (dated 22nd December, 2012), “that differences of opinion are best resolved by measured and constructive dialogue (face to face) at the appropriate point in the organization where the delegated authorities to deal with the issues reside”. The issues you have raised are operational issues and need to be resolved at operational level.

Kind regards

Lester Levy”

 

My reply

“Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email .

It is well-known that parliaments in most Western democracies operate under the Westminster system. It’s been said that New Zealand operates under the Axminster system – sweep everything under the carpet.

My prime focus here is on Michael Riley’s gratuitous letter. However I will refer to information charges at the end.

I have shown Michael Riley’s letter to a number of intelligent people and they are all of the view it is a disgrace. I am disappointed at your resolute stance that it is constructive. My carefully thought out letter to you of 14 January gave specific examples of non-constructive comments. The written complaint made by me to David Warburton on 26 November about Mr Riley’s letter, followed numerous attempts to contact him by phone that were stymied, although I did manage to speak to his PA Nirelle Cooper. Mr Warburton failed to return any phone calls.

 

As a consequence, on 28 November I complained to you. On 29 November I sent you an email inviting you to ring me.

On 12 December I followed up with a formal complaint to you against Mr Warburton.

I have offered to meet you but you have declined. I am unimpressed.

In your email of 22 December you stated “I will make a request of David Warburton to ensure you receive a copy of the e-mail Michael Riley sent to you on the 30th  November 2012, as advised to you by Sheryll Giles.”

I have not received it yet.

Does it, in fact, exist?

TPOG believes the owners’ best interests are served by the sharing of information and the moral support we can give one another to avoid a divide and rule approach by Auckland Transport.

We have already uncovered a number of worthless assurances given to us in writing.

In July 2012 two of our members informed the Western Leader of insulting offers of $12000 each they had received for their properties. We believe this was effective, in that, a few months later they were both offered $20000 with no change to their properties. The sharing of that information has given confidence to other members of our group that they may not have had if details had been kept private.

 

As to the matter of charges for information. My 9 questions were put to my Local Board on 1 November 2012. It is a shame that AT believes it would cost $1900 to access financial information about a significant project that requires public funding. If the accounts are in such disarray let me make a CONSTRUCTIVE suggestion.

I have a computer that is 8 years old. I am still operating on Microsoft Office 2000. Yet I can locate an ESTIMATE of my future equity at any given date within about 30 seconds. I can also locate the ACTUAL equity on any given date in the past within about 30 seconds.

For a nominal fee of $1000 I would be prepared to show your IT people how a simple effective system could be set up with very little fuss.

 

This is not intended as a hospital pass.

 

Yours sincerely,

Gary Osborne”

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