Another dodgy deal under the spotlight at Auckland Council

It’s fantastic to see that the Auditor General has filed her teeth and is focussed on how bad local government is.

Of course Auckland Council has to be the worst of them with its continual excessive spending and mounting debt and some – quite frankly – pretty dodgy deals done by its City Transformation team.

Out West the team has been a focal point for a while.

Investigate magazine raised the issue of what deals the Council did with Westgate developer NZRPG, but that fell on deaf ears. Until now…

Auditor-General Lyn Provost has begun an inquiry into Auckland Council’s involvement in a new town centre at Westgate, which is costing ratepayers about $200 million.

The inquiry follows concerns raised with the Office of the Auditor-General about the way the project was established by the former Waitakere City Council and is being managed.

The Westgate town centre at Massey North is a $1 billion public-private partnership between New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG) and council, first mooted in 2002.

It is said to be New Zealand’s biggest new town centre, equivalent to a new Manukau or Albany, set on a 56ha site at the end of the Northwestern Motorway.  

The first stage of Westgate began opening for business at the end of last year when Mitre 10, Palmers Garden Centre and Pak’nSave opened stores.

The council is spending $200 million on roading, parks and community facilities, including a $27 million library and town square.

In a letter to one complainant, Ms Provost said she had received a number of concerns, largely relating to how the line between the public and private benefits of the project have been managed.

“I have decided that it is appropriate to examine and report on these matters, given the public sector’s continuing interest in exploring new ways of working with private sector partners and the novel collaborative arrangements in this project,” she said.

Among the concerns and allegations raised with the Auditor-General are ratepayer cash being used to purchase Westgate Rd through the current Westgate Shopping Centre for about $7 million, the council buying assets to help NZRPG’s financial position to start construction early and NZRPG receiving a council-funded project management fee of 8.5 per cent when the going rate was about 4 per cent.

The Auditor-General has been told the council paid $1000sq m for Westgate Rd that should have been vested free to the council and a “high” price of $630sq m to buy land for the library and town centre.

Sounds like some developers have a cosy relationship with the council and as a result are essentially receiving a subsidy for their building efforts…alternatively called “lining ones pockets” in the vernacular.

Len Brown’s council continues to look sneaky and furtive like him. Dodgy is as dodgy does.

If I was Lyn Provost I’d also be looking into the resurrection and granting of consent to build the whitewater rafting and canoe centre at Manukau…real list of players and Brown fan-bois in that lot.

 

– NZ Herald

 


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  • Kevin

    What is it with Lefties and PPPs? It’s like capitalism is all evil until they’re getting rich from it …

    • Murray Smith

      Rabbits left in charge of a lettuce.

  • KinaRolf

    Auckland and New Zealand is just manifesting its international reputation of being one of the most corrupt places on earth.

    • Aucky

      The Shortland St mafia has been in existence since times immemorial.

    • Raibert

      Really is starting to feel like we are living in Cuba before Castro. It does seem that the majority of Politicians both Local and Parliamentarian believe once in position they have the right to ignore the public. Thankfully we still have elections and can change / remove the really dodgy ones, however this doesn’t gaurantee the quality of the rest of them.
      In Auckland cities case, I wonder how long the excuse that ” we are dealing with amalgamation issues” will last. Also wonder what slogan will replace ” the most Liveable City” once Len and his cronies have gone.

  • Wallace Westland

    The project management fees are probably reasonable given the scale of the project but the buying of a road is outrageous.
    Roads are vested to council once a development is complete. Council then take over the ongoing maintenance of that road.
    Fundamentally however Council should not be wishing to own more roads as that equals more costs and there is absolutely no justifiable reason for buying one.
    There are exceptions when the development keeps the road but that’s usually due to ongoing expansion and it’s in the developers interest to keep council at arms length as much as possible.
    No busy bodies like Auckland Transport getting a say in who can do what when if they don’t own it.
    This is just another example of the corrupt practices in Auckland Council and by extension it’s CCO Auckland Transport (one of the most corrupt inefficient, poorly run mendacious, incompetent and nepotistic organisations I’ve ever had the misfortune to have to deal with)

  • Cancer Man

    Remember this was done under Waitakere Council. Bob Harvey is the one in the gun.

  • Greg

    A secret campaign fund needs topping up, nudge nudge wink wink, Lens running for again next year.

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