Council bides time with Titahi Bay flats

BY MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 16:09 27/07/2012
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MOVE ALONG: Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett and council chief executive Gary Simpson implore Titahi Bay Residents Association chairman Graeme Ebbett to cool his jets after he refused to leave the council chamber when the July 25 meeting went into non-public business.

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A decision on the future of the Moana Court flats in Titahi Bay may be three months away as Porirua City Council continues to explore how the units should be managed and by whom.

The council has been considering selling its only stake in social housing or contracting out the management of Moana Court to a more suitable provider. This in turn has brought anxiety to the mostly elderly residents of the flats, who are fearful of losing their homes or increased rent.

At its July 25 meeting, the council decided to not adopt a previous recommendation to sell or lease the land, and instructed chief executive Gary Simpson to continue to explore options for the provision of social housing services at Moana Court, and report back within 12 weeks.

''There is no proposal currently on the table,'' said mayor Nick Leggett on Friday. ''As soon as there is, we will consult and inform residents first on how the council's undertakings to preserve the flats use as social housing will be maintained by any alternative landlord.''

The public gallery at last Wednesday's meeting was overflowing with Moana Court tenants and sympathisers, many upset that a report on the flats was to be tabled in the non-public part of the meeting.

Chief executive Gary Simpson said it was appropriate as councillors would be briefed on legal advice concerning technical aspects of the proposal, but this did little to temper residents' consternation.

Titahi Bay Residents' Association chairman Graeme Ebbett, residents Don Borrie and Tracey Waters and Moana Court tenant Dave Fletcher refused to leave the council chamber, and only did so after the arrival of police and repeated assurances from Mr Leggett that no decision on the flats' future would be made that night.

Mr Ebbett had earlier argued standing orders required the Moana Court proposal to be tabled as public business. The council later suspended the standing orders.

''We don't agree that standing orders can be set aside,'' said Mr Ebbett, ''but we're taking the mayor at his word rather than taking a trip in the paddy wagon.''

Moana Court resident Robert Overend and Mr Fletcher had also addressed council. Both questioned the process to date and the council's ability to protect the residents if the flats were sold to another provider.

The previous week Mr Fletcher had delivered a flyer to letterboxes claiming council would make a final decision at July 24 meeting and that ''elderly and infirm residents'' would be exposed to eviction.

Mr Leggett said the council's intention has always been to protect the tenants' future in their homes and ensure they are not unduly affected by a change in ownership or management.

He said there had been a lot of scaremongering and it had only served to cause tenants unnecessary distress.

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