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Action Discriminatory & Breach Of Natural Justice

The campaign opposing the Auckland Regional Council rating policy.

Contact, DAVID THORNTON [Chairman of the Glenfield Ratepayers] david@Kandu.co.nz

3 February 2004

Comment from David Thornton on today's ARC committee meeting re Rates



At a meeting of it's Special Rates Committee today the Auckland Regional Council was recommended to target certain ratepayers with solicitors letters demanding payment and threatening legal action.

The letters will be sent only to those whose rates bill is over $500, who do not have a mortage, and who have not contacted the ARC on the rates issue.

The ARC's decision to target 'selected' ratepayers must represent a breach of natural justice and is a clear case of discrimination against a certain group of ratepayers

Those ratepayers who are selected to receive a solicitors 'demand letter' can justifiably claim to being unfairly treated relative to the thousands of ratepayers who have not paid and who are not being selected to receive these letters.

The ARC openly agrees that they are using this method of 'test cases' to show they mean business - in other words, as one councillor put it, 'to frighten people' into paying.

The ARC's proposal to send a solicitor's letter to ratepayers whose rates are over $500 will catch many elderly people who have lived in their home for many years - the capital value of which has risen substantially over those years, especially in recent times. Many of these people are living on low fixed incomes - and might be forced out of their homes if they cannot pay.

Other criteria for receiving a solicitor's letter stipulate that the ratepayer should not have a mortgage and must not have contacted the ARC at all regarding his or her rates. As Councillor Smith pointed out, over 40,000 people signed the Rebellion petitions handed to the ARC last year. All of those who signed can claim to have contacted the ARC be virtue of signing documents presented to the ARC.

I am horrified to think that I, the spokesman for the Rebellion campaign, do have a mortgage, have contacted the council, and owe less than $300 - will not therefore be a target for these 'test cases', while others, much less fortunate than I, will be targeted.

Meanwhile every 'defaulter' will receive a 'second' reminder letter this week - a letter which the ARC threatened to send out a month ago.

A third letter, the'Final Demand' will be sent out in about three weeks and the solicitor's letter will follow that.

The ARC is once again showing that it was totally unprepared for the level of disobedience generated through the Ratepayers Rebellion

More than 7 months into the financial year there are still over 40,000 ratepayers withholding all of their rates, and a further 57,000 plus who are withholding part of their rates or paying by instalments contrary to ARC demands.


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