• Video: Government declines Hastings Mayor's request for funding for Cyclone Gabrielle Category Three demolition costs

Video: Government declines Hastings Mayor's request for funding for Cyclone Gabrielle Category Three demolition costs

The new Government has rejected a request by the Mayor of Hastings for funding for the demolition costs of the homes of Cyclone Gabrielle Category Three property owners.

The lates development comes after the Hastings District Council decided by the narrowest of margins on Tuesday not make Cyclone Gabrielle Category Three property owners liable for demolition costs.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst has used a casting vote at a full Council meeting after councillors were deadlocked at six-all in the motion to change a policy that saw the Council decide last year to carry the cost of the demolition of homes.

At the meeting Hazlehurst said she had written to the Prime Minister Christopher Luxon asking for the Crown to cover the cost of the demolition. She said her “biggest concern is that this, right from the beginning through our negotiations with the Crown, is a partnership”.

Approached by Hawke’s Bay App about the Government’s response to the request, the Prime Minister’s Office said the matter had been referred to Mark Mitchell, the Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery.

Mitchell’s spokesperson told Hawke’s Bay App today that the Minister had responded to the mayor’s letter outlining why the Government won’t be funding the demolition of homes.

In response, Hastings District Council CEO Nigel Bickle said the Government’s response “doesn't change the fact that we've made a decision, we're just getting on with it.”

Bickle says that ratepayers will now be liable for the demolition costs, but how this would look had still not been decided.

“That's what we'll have to work through. Talking to the community through the LTP process. But yeah, I mean it is most simple. We adopted a policy. At the time the $8 million assessed demolition cost was... The crown's position was, ‘We're not paying a dollar towards that. We'll pay on a fifty-fifty basis towards the cost of the property buyout.’”

“We'd raised with council saying, ‘Well, should that continue to be the policy position, given some of the insurance pay outs?’"

“Council made that call on Tuesday and that was going to defray a couple of million dollars of cost if we got something, a contribution from the effective property owners. They decided not to do that. The Crown's come back and not changed its position. So we kind of continue to be in the case that those costs will be met by the rate payer.”

The decision not to pay for the demolition costs was originally made by the previous Labour Government.


More to come