7 Aug 2018

Supreme Court rejects Mangawhai Ratepayers' illegal rates battle

3:43 pm on 7 August 2018

The Supreme Court has rejected a bid by Mangawhai Ratepayers to continue their court battle over illegal rates.

Supreme Court in Wellington

Supreme Court has denied Mangawhai Ratepayers leave to challenge a ruling by the Appeal Court. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

It's refused them leave to challenge a ruling by the Court of Appeal, validating unlawful Northland Regional Council rates collected by Kaipara District Council.

Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents chairman Bruce Rogan said it was a sad end to a six-year battle that began when Kaipara District Council borrowed millions of dollars for a sewerage plant, without ratepayer consent.

The Audit Office failed to pick up the illegality and the government passed a special bill to validate the rates charged to cover the debt.

Mr Rogan said subsequent court decisions had all backed the council and the right of banks to collect on their loans.

There was nothing to stop the same thing happening again, Mr Rogan said.

"Not only has nothing been put in place to prevent that, but the actions of the courts of New Zealand have ensured there will be no consequences whatsoever to any council that does repeat that kind of behaviour," he said.

The Supreme Court found that although there were errors in the rates the Kaipara District Council processed for the regional council, there had been no prejudice to ratepayers as a result.

Mr Rogan said ratepayer groups from around the country would meet next month to form a national body, with the aim of giving ratepayers a louder voice and more influence.

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