Delay in arbitration 'wearying'

The couple locked in a long-running dispute over stormwater with the Dunedin City Council face another setback days out from Christmas.

Steve and Lorraine Hawkins, of 240 Portobello Rd, had reached agreement with the council to enter binding arbitration to resolve the dispute over stormwater problems at the property.

A one-day hearing was to have been held in December before independent arbitrator and barrister Sam Maling, of Christchurch, with a decision to follow.

However, Mr Hawkins yesterday told the Otago Daily Times the hearing had been delayed due to the unavailability of one party.

It was now pencilled in to be held in early February.

"It is really wearying on us, as we have technically sold our property, having signed a binding arbitration agreement with the DCC, without knowing what the final figure will be.

"As there is an enormous gap between their valuation and ours, it could mean that we will either be out on the street with no money to start again, or have enough to rebuild our lives,'' he said.

The Hawkins went public in August to detail their three-year dispute with the council, which they blamed for an increasing volume of stormwater, and associated damage, from new homes above them in Waverley.

The council refused to accept liability, while insisting it had made "exhaustive'' efforts to try to resolve the dispute - including earlier offers to fix the problem or buy the property.

The two sides continued to disagree on a valuation for the property, as the Hawkins' valuation came in at $1.12 million and the council's at $680,000.

Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose, speaking late last month, stressed both sides wanted the dispute resolved "as quickly as we can''.

"It will be good to have this issue resolved, for us and the Hawkins.''

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