The Council puts the bridle on the legal costs foreseen for the “scrap” of the plan

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The expected legal appeals to the West Coast’s proposed “district plan” and the cost of defending them are worrying West Coast regional councilors.

Last week, the board discussed taking on an extra $ 1 million debt to cover a shortfall in the costs of the Te Tai or Poutini (TTPP) plan.

The West Coast Regional Council is shocked that it will foot the bill for challenging government-imposed changes.
Photo: Google Maps

With public notification around the corner, councilors were concerned that any legal challenge to aspects of the proposed plan would impose even greater costs on taxpayers.

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Councilor Brett Cummings said it was obvious he would be mired in legal “scrapping” once the plan was notified, and asked who would pay.

“What worries me is what will happen after the [plan] it goes on and the fight begins, the scrap begins and it will cost a lot more money, ”Cummings said.

The council had already spent “millions” to combat legal identification of wetlands on the west coast.

“This will be the next fight that happens. It worries me where it all ends.”

Brett Cummings of the West Coast Regional Council

Brett Cummings
Photo: West Coast Regional Council

He noted that the council essentially needed to defend a government-set agenda with the combined plan process.

“We will fight it ourselves. The government will try to laugh. We don’t get any support from Wellington for that … they should somehow finance it,” Cummings said.

Councilor Stuart Challenger said he agreed, but the board committed to the process, including payment, because it had no choice.

“It’s about getting that message across to the central government that their costs or impositions are costing us and the taxpayers more money. We have a small taxpayer base. How can we afford to keep up with all of these things?”

President Allan Birchfield said that costing was “a matter of democracy” as the rights of landowners and private taxpayers would be eroded by the proposed changes in the plan.

“We have our rights confiscated. It’s really something the government has to look at to protect our tariffs.”

New Zealand Local Government President Stuart Crosby, addressing the board immediately after discussing the TTPP loan, noted that the councils were under the most immense pressure he had seen in 30 years of involvement.

Crosby, former mayor of Tauranga and Bay of Plenty regional councilor, said reforming the Resource Management Act in particular would have a profound impact on current local government functions.

Among the reforms reported was the idea of ​​combined district plans between regions – a political shift that the West Coast was essentially experiencing for the government first.

For this reason the government should have offered financial support, Crosby said.

“You are driving New Zealand in this respect, but you have to pay for it. I think we could have assisted in that process.”

Stuart Crosby

Stuart Crosby sympathizes with the regional council’s complaint about costs.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

As it was, the industry was rushing to meet its consultation obligations on a number of new imposed laws, including the Resource Management Act and Environmental Enabling Legislation, apart from three waters.

“In over 30 years of local government I have never seen an environment so pressured,” Crosby said.

“It’s all the other way around. They should have talked about the future of the local government first and then see how it behaves politically.”

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, News Publishers’ Association and NZ on Air.


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