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Auckland Council:are they accountable to the ratepayers?

Press Release on Behalf of Penny Bright

Auckland Council:are they accountable to the ratepayers they serve?

The SuperCity appears to be a force to be reckoned with as self-proclaimed whistleblower Penny Bright struggles to achieve accountability or indeed the opportunity to actually sit across the table from Stephen Town CEO of Auckland Council. Her home is on the line.

Despite her best efforts to achieve reconciliation she has been stonewalled. She has been penalised. She has been ignored. She has been vilified.

CEO Stephen Town has made his position clear : either Ms Bright pays her rates in full plus penalties, or postpone her rates or he will force the sale of her home to cover what he considers to be the due amount. There is no room for discussion.

Penny Bright has long battled the Auckland City Council in her justifiable attempt to have the Council publicly display the details for the spending of rates oncontractors and sub-contractors as required by statute. This annual rates revenue is estimated to be in the region of $4 Billion.

Ms Bright refuses to be bullied into submission

Yesterday in the High Court Auckland Council moved yet further in their attempt to enforce their judgement for unpaid rates by forcing the sale of her freehold house.

She awaits the Judge’s decision.

It is a little known fact that ratepayers are guarantors of Auckland Council’s borrowing. The borrowing is substantial : current indebtedness of Council and the CCOs is approximately $9 billion estimated to grow to $20-24 Billion over the next 10 years on current plans. In real terms, the monies that are borrowed by Auckland Council are secured over rates income and future rates income.

Wendy Gray, of Tree Advocates says “ Penny Bright is courageously representing the rights and the best interests of all ratepayers in Auckland. “ She continues;

" Ratepayers are being bullied by Council. When we have an issue with Council, we cannot speak to someone who is accountable. We must go through customer service, which informs us we may get an answer within 10 days. If we speak to someone it is usually a Customer Liaison person whom, if we are lucky,will not lie to us. We also have the indignity of having to pay for the PR feedback campaigns, sham consultation, being used to pretend that Council is consulting with us. One of the only remedies for ratepayers is to refuse to pay rates.”

Council says that Penny has brought this outcome on herself. Lisa Prager, Occupy Garnet Road counters 'But their pursuit of a punitive, vindictive action - selling her house - a woman withterminal cancer - is bullying of the worst sort. When a charge on her property would have the same legal effect.’

Wendy Gray adds ‘ We have been advised that there are several tenders in place from interested parties, in the hands of Barfoot & Thompson who have been charged with the selling of her freehold home : and that none of said tenders reaches anything like the CV of Ms Bright’s home. Proceeding to sell, at an undervalue, the freehold house of a terminally ill woman is inhumane and not something I wish to stand back and condone byinaction. I do not consent to my rates being used by Auckland Council to fund this’

She continues ‘What are we witnessing here ? If we stand back and do nothing whose interests are we serving ? Certainly not those of the ratepayers : the people who populate and live in this city. You have to enquire further … Who are the Council who represent the residents and ratepayers of Auckland? This lack of dignity, courtesy and humanity illustrates, that, the very people we have elected to care for our city, and its development, are, fundamentally, bullies. If we stand back and allow Auckland Council to behave in this way then we condone their actions on all levels. We too are derelict in our responsibility for the future of our city. We too are bullies and without moral character. It is wrong for Council to behave like this.

We are confident we speak for many Aucklanders on this. The numbers of supporters at Penny Bright’s hearing yesterday attests to that.’ The public gallery was filled to overflowing and all the jury seating section was filled with supporters. She is fighting this fight for all of us. ’

There is a growing consensus that Penny Bright represents Aucklanders. She states repeatedly that she is willing to pay her rates .But only when Aucklanders obtain details of all awarded contracts and sub-contracts, as is required by the legislation set out in the Public Records Act 2005.


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