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Judicial review udpate

Monday 9 June 2008

Judicial review udpate

Environment Bay of Plenty has finished its submission to the High Court in Rotorua on the judicial review of the organisation's decision to move its headquarters to Tauranga.

The judicial review applicants (Whakatane District Council and others) completed their submission at lunch time on Wednesday (4 June) following on from their three days of submission in March.

Environment Bay of Plenty's legal counsel then launched the organisation's case and this and the final submissions saw the court case finish on Friday (6 June) afternoon. The judge has reserved her decision. The decision is not expected for a few months.

The proceedings were in effect both sides summing up their cases.

Mr Miles QC for Environment Bay of Plenty continued first making the following key points:

* The Dec 2006 'in principle' decision to investigate accommodation needs does not constitute a decision to move the head office, i.e. Council did not have a predetermined outcome

* Following the Dec 2006 decision substantial analysis was undertaken on the reasonably practicable options

* Information was made available to the public as soon as there was anything for them to know, from Dec 2006 onwards

* Community views were considered throughout the process ('community views' is quite a different concept to consultation)

The Judge asked a few questions of clarification.

Mr Neutze then presented his response for the applicant (WDC & others). His key points were:

* Environment Bay of Plenty didn't fully comply with section 76 to 79 of the Local Government Act in considering options and community views

* Environment Bay of Plenty went too far in its Dec 2006 Council meeting

* It is implicit that those who did not hear the submitters should not vote on the final decision

* Councillor comments from before and during the process were not taken out of context and showed there was a lack of an open mind

Legal counsel on both sides made a plea to the Judge for a timely decision as both recognise the importance of the decision and the need to have certainty. The Judge appeared to accept these arguments but made no comment on the timeframe within which her decision will be available.


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