Resident loses reimbursement fight

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
Colin Stokes
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ
HIS VIEW: Colin Stokes addresses the Christchurch City Council in 2012 about roading concerns.

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A Yaldhurst resident has lost his battle to recoup from the Christchurch City Council $60,000 he spent fighting to stop what he argued was a dangerously narrow road from being built.

Colin Stokes has spent four years arguing the spine road into the Noble subdivision is unsafe and that it was built with disregard to accepted roading standards.

He alleged that council staff erred in allowing the road to be built and had since conspired to cover up their mistake.

His claims about the spine road were partly backed up by an independent safety audit recently conducted by Dr Shane Turner, which did identify a number of "serious" and "significant" safety concerns with the roading network.

The city council is addressing those concerns, but yesterday rejected a recommendation from the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board that they pay Stokes $60,000 towards the costs he had incurred.

Speaking to the council at the start of the meeting, Stokes said it was not just him who was out of pocket as a result of mistakes made by council staff, but also other residents in the subdivision.

"If your vote is not to reimburse the residents . . . it is a vote to tell the staff, ‘spend hundreds of thousands trying to cover up your mistakes and oppressing the public'," Stokes said.

He was supported by Riccarton-Wigram Community Board chairman Mike Mora, who told councillors while they might not have a legal duty to reimburse Stokes, they had a moral duty.

"Don't be too worried about the precedent but think about it morally," Mora said.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck said she was worried about the precedent it would set.

"This is a particularly litigious subdivision and there is no way, if we open this gate a little bit, it stops at a little bit," Buck warned.

All the councillors, bar Jimmy Chen, voted against reimbursing Stokes' costs.

Riccarton-Wigram Community Board member Debbie Mora said the council owed Stokes and the other residents who had battled alongside him a huge debt of gratitude for exposing serious concerns about the safety of the roading network and that it should not have left them out of pocket.

"This vote was simply a vote to say, ‘Go ahead and develop unsafe subdivisions because there will be no recourse action through the council'," Debbie Mora said.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said there was no legal basis for reimbursing Stokes.

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- The Press

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