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Cr Robin Gwynn Op-Ed: Napier Hospital Sale

Cr Robin Gwynn Op-Ed: Napier Hospital Sale

A century ago, your grandfather made an arrangement with his big brother, Slippery Sam. Between them, they put part of the family property into trust.

Recently, Slippery Sam’s grandson, a new generation Slippery Sam, decided he could ignore the trust, sell off the land and do what he wanted with the proceeds.

You get a legal opinion. It says Slippery Sam can’t do that - not unless the trust is first removed. You’ve tried telling him that. But he won’t budge, or even listen.

You’re rather frightened of Slippery Sam - he can be a bit of a bully. So, what do you do? Take no action, and let him get away with it? Or take the matter to court?

That is the dilemma that the Napier City Council is currently facing. It has good reason to believe that in trying to sell the Hospital Hill site, the Government is acting illegally. As Judge Gendall said loud and clear a couple of years ago, it can’t be done – not without specific legislation.

But Council doesn’t want to upset the Government, which has the power to make life pretty unpleasant for it. So, in a media release yesterday, it says it will not challenge the Government in court.

I fully understand where the majority of my fellow councillors are coming from. But personally, I think Council is wrong. Even if only to vindicate the memory of those who created the trust in the first place, we should stand up for what is right.

And the Hill site is the best guarantee the city has of keeping any public health services in the future. Forget what the DHB says. Look at its record. It has stripped Napier of services, and shafted it again and again. It repeatedly ignores commitments into which it freely chose to enter. Real services in the city at Wellesley Road decline every year.

That’s an issue of such importance for Napier’s future that the city needs to take a stand. Council should have led it.

- Cr Robin Gwynn

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