• Narrow vote sees Hastings District Council decide not to make Cyclone Category Three property owners liable for demolition costs

Narrow vote sees Hastings District Council decide not to make Cyclone Category Three property owners liable for demolition costs

The Hastings District Council has decided by the narrowest of margins today to 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 today after councillors were deadlocked at six-all in the moton to change a policy that saw the Council decide last year to carry the cost of the demolition of homes. Council officials then tabled a proposal at a Council meeting on 1 February that the Category Three property owners be held liable for some of the demolition costs.

At the 1 February meeting Councillors decided to leave the proposal on the table, requesting more information from officials. A letter was then sent to about 165 property owners asking for feedback and received 23 responses. All the feedback opposed the proposal, which would see the original policy amended, to make property owners liable for some of the demolition costs.

An amended proposal was put to council today which put the property owners in three categories – fully insured, under-insured and uninsured.

Councillors were today asked to vote on whether the policy should be changed to make the property owners liable for some of the demolition costs.

Before the vote, Council CEO Nigel Bickle said the councillors needed to decided “whether you want to proceed with seeking a contribution towards demolition from homeowners or if you don't and you want the policy to remain as it was when you adopted it in September of 2023.”

The vote, by show of hands, saw the 12 member council split six all. For the first time in her seven years as Mayor, Hazlehurst had to make the deciding vote, which was to keep the original policy as is.

Hazlehurst said that her “biggest concern is that this, right from the beginning through our negotiations with the Crown, is a partnership”.

“Our partnership means a partnership with the Crown. That is how we collect and distribute and sort out the silt and the debris. How we repair our bridges and our roading network and our transport network at enormous costs of $800 million. And how we manage our share of the $50 million for the Voluntary Buyout with the Crown.”

She said that she had sent a letter to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon “for him to understand what this means for us, for our people and our recovery, and the voluntary buyout is one part of our journey and our recovery”.

“We're on a long road with the Crown for our region to recover. Our intention, our objectives, and our principles under the policy in October were to ensure that we got through this recovery and brought our people with us. I thank everybody for their submissions and I thank everybody for sharing their views.”

“This journey is going to be a long one. This isn't just about today. This isn't about what we do with our silt and our debris. This isn't about how we restore our roads and bridges. This is a partnership for the future. So, I will vote not to include the amendment, but to stay with the original policy that we signed off on the objectives and principles.”

The Napier City Council, unlike the Hastings District Council, has not prepared a report containing a proposal to make Cyclone Gabrielle Category 3 property owners liable for demolition costs. 

A Council spokesperson told Hawke’s Bay App that the issue would probably be heard by the Napier City Council in March, but this still needed to be confirmed.