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  • Local Authority excludes public from meeting when agenda item about water issues

    Case notes
    Complaint about a Local Authority (the Council) to exclude the public from a part of its Audit and Risk Committee meeting regarding its discussion of agenda item relating to water quality and water restriction issues—insufficient weight was given to the public interest in the subject matter of the agenda item
  • Early resolution of a potential water restriction to a family home

    Case notes
    A family received notice that an agency would be severely restricting its water supply because of an overdue account. Once the Ombudsman became involved, the agency reviewed its accounts and realised it was in error. On the Ombudsman’s request, the agency apologised to the family and committed to reviewing its accounts more carefully before advising of possible water restrictions. From complaint to resolution, the issue was resolved in only 12 working days without the family suffering water restrictions.
  • Administrative error leading to loss of opportunity to name a road

    Case notes
    In mid-2016, the owners of land containing a private road became aware that Kaipara District Council (the Council) had excluded them from a consultation process that it had initiated among residents earlier that year to determine a name for the road.
  • Ministry of Social Development (CYF) failings at Family Group Conference and remedy of ex gratia payment required

    Case notes
    Ministry of Social Development (CYF—later Oranga Tamariki) fails to recognise impact and stress caused by failings by its staff at a family Group Conference to discuss child’s future—Advisory Panel had already acknowledged many of the failings but MSD had not accepted the gravity thereof—Ombudsman’s opinion on the matter accepted and MSD (OT) finally offered reasonable ex gratia payment and meaningful apology to complainant
  • Department of Corrections staff to follow legislative requirements when segregating inmate

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections held prisoner in Management Unit without following required procedure—segregation legislation and regulations are clear and prescriptive
  • Local Authority fails to include relevant information on a Land Information Memorandum

    Case notes
    Local Authority omits to identify potential slippage risk on a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) issued to the complainant—Ombudsman sustains complaint
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to turn off water supply at property owned by a Trust

    Case notes
    Decision by Local Authority to turn off water supply in building occupied intermittently—Ombudsman finds not unreasonable
  • Cancellation of transport card and refusal to refund money stored on the card

    Case notes
    A complaint was made against Auckland Transport (AT) about its cancellation of an ‘AT HOP’ card used by commuters on Auckland’s public transport system.
  • Ministry of Social Development’s Advisory Panel will make administrative change as a result of complaint

    Case notes
    Complaint about MSD CEO’s Advisory Panel—MSD appointed panel outside governing terms of reference—Chair of Panel was formerly employed by Child Youth and Family (CYF)—Ombudsman found composition reasonable in the circumstances but on second matter, that the Panel should have in its reports, a record of consideration of compensation requests and reasons why payment would/would not be recommended
  • Department of Corrections unreasonably declines computer access to inmate

    Case notes
    Access to computer suite in prison denied—Ombudsman found this unreasonable—Corrections agreed to reconsider the inmate’s request and to review criteria for use—also that computer facilities at prison be reviewed to ensure availability to prisoners who meet criteria for assistance with litigation
  • Department of Corrections not unreasonable to decline face to face interview between prisoner and journalist in particular case

    Case notes
    Prisoner requested face to face interview with journalist—request declined—Ombudsman noted journalist had offered to conduct interview by AVL, notwithstanding preference for face to face—Ombudsman concluded that on this basis Department had not acted unreasonably in this instance
  • Local Authority’s efforts to mitigate effects of resource consent errors not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Local Authority decision about wall constructed on boundary—Council erred by not requiring resource consent and then offered assistance to owners to lodge application—complainant considered Council unfair not to offer assistance to him to oppose the consent
  • Local Authority’s Code of Compliance Certificate on drainage reasonable in circumstances

    Case notes
    Local Authority decision on detection of cross connection piping problem not unreasonable—Body Corporation of building forced to pay costs—question whether Code of Compliance Certificate should have been issued—Ombudsman concluded Council not aware of problem
  • Regional Authority decision on resource consent for pergola on non-notified basis not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Regional Authority’s decision to grant resource consent for a pergola on a non-notified basis was reasonable in the circumstance—permitted baseline test under section 95E of the Resource Management Act 1991
  • Local Authority’s Trespass Notice unreasonable in circumstances

    Case notes
    Local Authority issued Trespass Notice for two years at sports stadium—Ombudsman noted serious misconduct on part of complainant to warrant action but trespass sanction extreme—complaint sustained and Council implemented Ombudsman’s recommendations
  • Local Authority did not act unreasonably in remedying damage following tree removal

    Case notes
    Local Authority—removal of two pohutukawa trees—Council agreed to mitigate loss of these in conjunction with the land owner—Ombudsman considered Council did not act unreasonably
  • Local Authority unreasonably failed to consult with residents about building relocation

    Case notes
    Local Authority allowed relocation of building without providing for adequate consultation process with the local community—Ombudsman upheld complaint
  • Accident Compensation Corporation failed to explain reasons for decision made on independent review

    Case notes
    ACC failed to provide a full and detailed explanation as to why it declined to make an ex gratia payment as recommended by an independent reviewer
  • Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over District Council electoral officer

    Case notes
    Jurisdiction—Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over Council electoral officer—electoral expense returns not subject to Local Government Information and Meetings Act 1982
  • Local Authority unreasonably failed to provide information on LIM

    Case notes
    Local Authority failed to provide information in a Land Information Memorandum(LIM) about outstanding capital contribution for a sewer—Ombudsman considered Council acted unreasonably—Council made payment to complainant in resolution of complaint
  • Tertiary Council appointments process controlled by Council

    Case notes
    Nomination for appointment to Tertiary Council pursuant to s 171(2)(f)(ii) Education Act 1989 required workers’ organisation to be consulted—Council refused to appoint organisation’s sole nominee and sought further nominations from organisation—appointment process stalled—alleged unreasonable failure by Council to consult—Ombudsman held consultation confers no rights on an organisation and that Council controlled appointments process
  • Department of Corrections required to state reasons for security classification

    Case notes
    Prison inmate complained that his security classification had been unreasonably assessed and Ombudsman concluded the Department failed to provide ‘strong reasons’ (which must be stated)—Ombudsman found the Prison officers had based their classification on uncorroborated, unrecorded, verbal statement made by another inmate—Ombudsman upheld complaint based on inequitable situation that would result if prison relied solely on this information, however, the inmate released before any recommendation could be made
  • ACC has responsibility to meet statutory obligations despite uncooperative claimant

    Case notes
    Refusal to compensate for alleged ‘wrongful action’ – independent review of case incomplete because of complainant’s behaviour—treatment and rehabilitation compromised by stand-off between claimant and Corporation—complaints sustained and recommendations made but rejected by Corporation—Accident Insurance Act 1998
  • Local Authority cannot call ‘workshop’ a meeting for purposes of LGOIMA

    Case notes
    Council Workshop—decisions not formally made—requirements of the Act cannot be avoided by calling a meeting a workshop—Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, s 45(1)
  • Accident Compensation payment backdated but delay to repay

    Case notes
    ACC claimant originally declined attendant care payment and review of decision found that claimant was entitled to payments and they should be backdated to 1983—ACC accepted review decision but payments not forthcoming. Claimant’s family complained to Ombudsman and ACC explained it was in the process of calculating amount owed and expected negotiations to begin shortly—Ombudsman kept informed on progress—meetings between ACC and claimant’s family occurred with final amount calculated and preparations made for payment to be forwarded upon appointment of claimant’s property manager—Ombudsman discontinued enquiries
  • Councils required to add to LIM matters on neighbouring property if relevant

    Case notes
    Purchaser requested LIM from Council on property he was considering buying—LIM received and property purchased—after purchaser gained possession he discovered neighbour had building consent to drain storm water into his drain—building consent not referred to in LIM report—purchaser sought removal of drain and records about drain, and reimbursement of legal costs—Council advised its practice was to note consents only on applicant’s file - Ombudsman held Council’s actions unreasonable—Council agreed to pay compensation
  • Department of Labour reasonable not to investigate accident of primary student on extra-curricular activity

    Case notes
    Primary school student training for cross country competition on mountain road struck by motor vehicle – training sanctioned by school as an extra curricular activity—OSH declined to investigate—father complained to Ombudsman—Ombudsman examined provisions of Health and Safety in Employment Act—satisfied that OSH had no jurisdiction to investigate as accident did not fall within the definitions of ‘place of work’ or ‘work’ in s.2(1) as occurred outside school grounds—Police investigation limited to criminal liability—Ombudsman identified no mechanism in place for ensuring accountability by schools in providing safe environment for students outside school gates—Ombudsman approached OSH, Ministry of Education and Minister of Labour about his concerns – Ministry confirmed it was developing policy to address this and agreed to keep Ombudsman informed—Ombudsman advised complainant he was satisfied OSH’s original decision was reasonable
  • Council should pay for cost of obtaining second legal opinion on straightforward matter raised by complainant

    Case notes
    Property owner disagreed with Council that resource consent was necessary for building house—Council sought external legal advice and billed property owner who refused to pay—Council went to Disputes Tribunal which ordered property owner to pay all legal fees and court costs—property owner complained to Ombudsman who considered legislation and found it to be unambiguous that both the operative and proposed district plans must be complied with—Council agreed issue was straightforward and was aware of legislation and relevant case law—Ombudsman did not consider it necessary for further advice to be obtained on issue—view formed that it was appropriate for Council to exercise discretion under s36(5) of Resource Management Act 1991 and remit charge—in circumstances, Ombudsman also considered it unreasonable for Council not to remit Court and solicitor’s costs payable pursuant to Disputes Tribunal order—recommended all costs be remitted
  • Child Youth and Family’s decision to remove child from care

    Case notes
    The Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF), now Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki, agreed to apologise and reimburse couple’s legal fees following Ombudsman’s finding that CYF’s decision to decline custody of a child was unreasonable and then, when CYF acquiesced following the commencement of a court proceedings, CYF was unreasonable not to reimburse legal costs incurred by the couple
  • Department of Corrections revises guidelines on implications for visitors possessing drugs

    Case notes
    Prison banned inmate’s family members from visiting for 12-months after small amount of cannabis found in their possession—the inmate complained that the duration of ban was unreasonable but the Department of Corrections noted it had zero tolerance policy for drugs with an automatic 12-month prohibition order to be placed on anyone found with them on prison property—Ombudsman concluded blanket ban unreasonable and the Department agreed each case to be considered on merits and prepared guidelines for prisons—Ombudsman advised inmate to apply for a review of prohibition order under the new guidelines