30 Nov 2012

Kairapa rebellion could escalate

8:41 pm on 30 November 2012

A rates rebellion in Kaipara could escalate, with a legal opinion supporting the view that the district council has acted unlawfully.

The draft opinion by the Auckland barrister Kitt Littlejohn says it is likely a court would set aside the council's long-term plan and rates resolutions because they made significant changes to the plan without consulting the community.

The president of the Kaipara Ratepayers Association, Ron Manderson, says the opinion backs up what the Mangawhai ratepayers have been saying for months.

It could encourage more people to withhold their rates in protest, he says.

An estimated 1100 people are refusing to pay their rates in the Mangawhai, after the council botched the management of a new sewerage scheme and tried to rate the small community to cover loans of nearly $60 million.

Mangawhai Ratepayers Association president Bruce Rogan said a draft opinion received this week from a prominent Auckland barrister found that the council's most recent rating process was unlawful.

He said ratepayers in Mangawhai will present the opinion to the commissioners now running the council and ask them to withdraw the rate demands.