• Category Three property owner tells Council that community is disgusted at flawed and unfair policy change proposal

Category Three property owner tells Council that community is disgusted at flawed and unfair policy change proposal

Watch the accompayning video to see Dan Gale's presentation to the Hastings District Council today.

Category Three property owners are disgusted at a “flawed and unfair” policy that could see them liable for some of the cost for demolishing their homes, Dan Gale, a spokesperson for the group told a Hastings District Council meeting today.

The proposal was contained in a report that is before the Hastings District Council at a meeting on now. The Napier City Council will also hear a similar proposal at a later council meeting.

In a joint statement this week, the Hastings District Council and the Napier City Council said they were considering a change to the Cyclone Gabrielle Category 3 Buy-out Policy to “fix an anomaly”.

The report prepared for Hastings District Council says that in total, demolition costs are likely to exceed $6 million.

However, Gale, who owns the cyclone-damaged Eskdale Holiday Park, said the community has been blindsided, “having been told throughout the whole process that these demolitions costs would be covered by council”.

“Ultimately, our communities want the contribution to be left out of the policy and are furious at the suggestion that we are benefiting by receiving a full payout.”

“There are no winners in this situation. People are hanging on by a thread. People are suffering with depression, marriage breakups, serious health issues, and suicide due to the stress of the cyclone and this drawn-out process. This could very well tip some over the edge. Is a $2 million saving really worth that?”

Gale said he wanted to acknowledge all the cyclone-affected families and said the communities were disgusted at the “timing of this flawed and unfair policy right before the one-year anniversary, with already heightened emotions”.

“If you ask someone who is facing somewhere in the vicinity of 20 to $50,000 being taken off them, they would and they do disagree. The potential change in policy appears to be a massive oversight to the tune of $2 million.”

“This on its own should make it significant, let alone the fact that this $2 million impact will be concentrated on less than 137 property owners, rather than spread out upon thousands of ratepayers.”

Gale said that if councillors accepted the policy, they would discriminate certain groups of people based on their insurance status.

“They will penalise those who are uninsured and the most vulnerable, along with those who were well insured but still did not receive enough for the replacement value of their assets, which they are then being prevented from replacing in situ.”

“People who were affected have suffered unimaginable losses. The uninsured literally have nothing to their names. They lost their homes and all their belongings. Those who were well insured for their house didn't necessarily have good contents insurance. I know many people had between 20 and $50,000 of contents insurance, with the $20,000 mark being very common. There were also some who had none.”

He said that taking an extra $20,000 to $50,000 off people was a huge deal.

“They had been relying on what we were told by council, and we feel now we are being king hit. How can councillors form a fair opinion if they only receive one side of the story, which we believe is what would've happened if the public hadn't found out about this from our community members?”

“In my opinion, sadly, I think it is a foregone conclusion that the recommended option will be adopted today.”

Gale said there had been no double-dipping by property owners.

“People were simply insured for a sum that they believed would replace their homes like for like in situ, which they are now prevented from doing so. The fact that some homeowners received a full payout that includes demolition costs simply means they didn't have enough cover to repair it or replace it.”

He says there are a couple of solutions, namely asking the new government to pay the costs or ask the Red Cross to use what he says is $3.5million it has collected for this cost.