The Horowhenua Pensioner Flats Debacle

Horowhenua District Council is not telling all

By Rob McCann, Otaki Labour candidate

Horowhenua Cr Jo Mason

Horowhenua District Council’s (HDC) sale of pensioner flats has left many important questions unanswered. I am adamantly opposed to the sale.

The Council has opted not to point out to the public that the agreement with the new providers expires in just 12 years. That is, quite simply, unbelievable.

One of the community’s major concerns was to ensure that the dwellings would remain as Pensioner Housing stock.  And yet, here it is in writing, that the agreement lasts only for twelve years. That is stunning, and makes a mockery of the council talking about the “best fit” and “solution” for the community.

The deal allows for a future where there is no guarantee that these Pensioner Flats will even remain as community housing.

Not coming clean

Rob McCann

The Council has also opted not to highlight that only 105 of the 115 houses are covered by the social housing purpose. What will happen to the other ten? And there is little mention of the 1.1 hectares of land plot that is part of the sale.  Will this be given to the property developers?

Astoundingly, there is simply no guarantee that the housing will even remain as ‘Pensioner Housing’, given CE David Clapperton’s reference to it merely as ‘Community Housing’, as reported in the Horowhenua Chronicle.

This is privatisation of public assets. Simply put, it is an asset sale, and the manner of the sale almost beggars belief.

Don’t tell the mayor!

The Council outlined the sale of the Pensioner flats at a press conference without even inviting the Mayor. This is extraordinary. Whether you agree with his stance on various issues or not, to exclude the Mayor just because he opposes the sale is simply another example of a flawed sale process conducted by this council.

Horowhenua Cr Ross Brannigan

It seems that the council has opted to continue to ‘spin the sale’ to the public, rather than reveal all the details, and it was therefore disappointing to see a local front page story without a number of pertinent facts.

I understand that the press conference was hastily called once details of the sale were leaked, especially the information that the prospective purchasers – and ultimate owners of the land and housing stock – are property developers, not social housing providers.

There is a clear housing crisis in this country, and decisions such as this represent a transfer of wealth from the community to the private sector. This does nothing to avert the housing crisis.

The HDC must answer these questions and also discontinue this appalling process.