DCC to pay $185k costs over botched realignment

The corner of Frederick St, Dunedin (left) and Anzac Ave (State Highway 88) and the entrance to Doug Hall's transport yard. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The corner of Frederick St, Dunedin (left) and Anzac Ave (State Highway 88) and the entrance to Doug Hall's transport yard. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The Dunedin City Council has been ordered to pay more than $185,000 in costs following its botched handling of the state highway realignment for Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The realignment of State Highway 88 prompted Doug Hall to obtain a High Court injunction last year, after concerns over access issues for his Anzac Ave-based transport business.

That action resulted in the council being ordered to pay plaintiffs' costs of $79,524, expert fees of $95,605.26 and disbursements of $10,489.77, in a High Court decision from Justice Alan MacKenzie.

The plaintiffs, Anzide Properties Ltd, Hall Brothers Ltd, and Dunedin Crane Hire (2005) Ltd, had raised safety concerns about the configuration of the road, before its opening on April 5 last year.

"The council has proceeded to build the road which affects their properties and their businesses, in reliance upon a decision of the council, which it has accepted was improperly made," the decision noted.

"The road is, it seems, in place with no proper legal basis."

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said last night "it would be fair to say council did not handle things in an ideal way".

"[The decision was] the cumulation of a process that started with the development of the stadium, and the development of SH88 was by any measure fast-tracked to accommodate the need to have everything ready for the start of the Rugby World Cup.".

Asked if heads would roll over the council's handling of the saga, Mr Cull replied "No".

"I think things in hindsight could have been handled better ... Given the circumstances before the World Cup, there was a lot of pressure to get things done in a hurry.

"A few things slipped, it's fair to say. At the time, council did not make the best decisions, but they probably made it in good faith, so that is the way it is."

He said "considerable efforts" went into trying to find a solution for both parties.

Mr Cull, who did not know if costs had been paid, said "no-one wants additional costs", but it was better to know the costs now so the issue could be resolved.

"The important thing now is to find the best accommodation that suits Mr Hall, the council and the community at the most efficient cost."

In June the ODT reported the council had spent $300,000 on the roading dispute, with the final cost expected to be much higher.

Mr Hall referred comment on the decision to his lawyer, but echoed the same message as Mr Cull, that both parties were working together to find a solution.

The decision noted the dispute dates back to 2007, after the council developed a proposal for the realignment, and issued a notice of requirement in June the following year.

Anzide was listed as an affected party, but in June 2010, the council decided to realign the arterial route so it ran adjacent to the affected land, but not across it.

"It did not notify any of the plaintiffs of its intention to make that change. It now accepts that it should have done so," the decision noted.

Temporary access proposed by the plaintiffs allowed them partial use of the road, but restricted the full use of the entire roading scheme planned for the new road, the judgement noted.

Mr Cull, when asked for a timeframe in sorting out the road layout and the still-switched off traffic lights, replied; "as soon as possible".

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

Where do I apply?

The DCC won't get much change out of $1m for this project that the "DCC could have handled better". The property owner now has them over a barrel which is fair enough (Go Doug) and the DCC either pays up or pays someone else to redesign the intersection and then pays someone else to move all the traffic lights and kerbing.

Mr Cull said: "A few things slipped, it's fair to say. At the time, council did not make the best decisions, but they probably made it in good faith, so that is the way it is."  Unbelievable. The law is black and white - it doesn't understand good faith. If your staff are naive enough to be working in good faith then I pity you and your term as mayor as these staff will cause you more problems. 

The ratepayers expect someone to be accountable. Someone said 'just build it and we'll deal with it later'. If that was the contractor, claim it back from them. If a staff member, who authorised it, and did they have the authority to do that? If they did, OK; if not, that is your problem, but it seems you've already made it clear no one is to blame.

Someone is always to blame. We don't want them hung drawn and quartered, we just want to see some accountability in the DCC and its processes. If there is no accountabilty at the DCC, where can I apply for a job? [Abridged]

 

lack of accountablity yet again

Would all stadium councillors please stand down, resign.

Just how much more of our council's incompetent dealings are the ratepayers of this city expected to front up for.

 

Unacceptable

Dave Cull says,"A few things slipped, it's fair to say. At the time, council did not make the best decisions, but they probably made it in good faith, so that is the way it is."
So blithe. So extraordinary. So unacceptable.

No accountability?

Disgraceful, Mayor Cull.

The road has no legal basis.  If there is an accident there tomorrow, who has liability? 

The actions of these staff has so far cost the ratepayer several hundred thousand dollars.  There will be further costs in the millions, as a direct result of improper action by council and its staff. 

Who will be held to account for this? In your words - nobody. This is completely unacceptable.

There should be an immediate, full and wide-ranging inquiry launched into the transactions related to the SH88 realignment. 

[Abridged]

More money for rugby

Rugby, the gift that just keeps on taking, here's another $185k we're going to have to stump up because the city in a high handed rush to embrace the rugby world cup money sink hole they ran roughshod over local business - it's cost us millions for a half dozen games that have come and gone with no measurable effect on our city other than debt, debt and more debt.

[Abridged]

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