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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
  • Request for business plan for Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre

    Case notes
    Competitors could copy or adopt third party’s methodology and strategy and devise plans based on its established operating systems which would unreasonably prejudice its commercial position—information subject to an explicit obligation of confidence and of a confidential nature—release would damage the public interest by making suppliers reluctant to participate in future procurement processes
  • 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.
  • Request for draft venue development strategy

    Case notes
    Draft venue development strategy prepared by consultant—refused because commercial and confidential—analysis preliminary and high-level—s 7(2)(f)(i) applies—public interest requires disclosure of a summary statement
  • 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
  • Request for due diligence report, site visit reports and reference checks

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(ba)(i) applies in part to the due diligence report and to the correspondence from supplier—public interest in accountability of Department for steps taken to satisfy itself regarding supplier’s performance—sections 9(2)(ba)(i) and 9(2)(g)(i) apply to information obtained from site visits, but not to the executive summary of the reports—public interest in accountability for decision to award contract—sections 9(2)(ba)(i) applies to reference checks—release would deter referees from providing full and complete information in future—public interest requires release of summary information about the reference checks
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Request for draft audit report in relation to hospice

    Case notes
    Audit still in process and at the draft reporting phases—s 9(2)(ba)(i) and 9(2)(ba)(ii) provide good reason to withhold—limited distribution of confidential drafts for comment has long been considered a sound administrative practice in the public sector—public interest met through disclosure of final audit report
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (personal grievance)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds apply but need for accountability when things go wrong— seniority of the individuals involved—extent of information in the public domain—other means of scrutiny and regulation—third party review satisfied the public interest in this case
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (withholding grounds)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds applied—need for accountability when things go wrong— extent of information in the public domain—need to provide the ‘full picture’—nature and seriousness of the wrongdoing¬—whether other means of scrutiny or regulation—release of summary information to satisfy public interest
  • 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
  • Request for bioequivalence studies and dissolution data

    Case notes
    Not a trade secret but the data is subject to an obligation of confidence—risk of disclosure to competitors would make drug suppliers less likely to enter the New Zealand market—s 9(2)(ba)(ii) applies
  • Requests for tape and transcript of pilot communications to air traffic control

    Case notes
    Media requests for tape and transcript of pilot communications to Christchurch Air Traffic Control prior to crash—class exemption sought—also withheld to protect obligation of confidence—s 9(2)(ba)—release would not breach Chicago convention or any contracts with air traffic controllers—recommendation that information be released
  • Request to Board of Trustees for 15 year old daughter’s statements alleging sexual harassment by teacher aide

    Case notes
    Mother’s request to Board of Trustees for 15 year old daughter’s statements alleging sexual harassment by teacher aide—daughter provided statement to school in confidence—refused consent to release—public interest in ensuring students willing to supply similar information to school in future—good reason to withhold under s 9(2)(ba)(i)
  • Council agrees to provide building consent at no cost

    Case notes
    Couple’s spouting on outbuilding needed to be replaced—City Council advised that a building consent was required—complaint made that this was unreasonable—officials met onsite to examine outbuilding and property—an already approved storm water drain was identified and Council agreed to issue building consent at no cost to couple—complaint resolved
  • Councils cannot act without proper authority regarding water usage charges

    Case notes
    Council installed water meter on landowner’s property so that water charges would be based on quantity used rather than flat domestic rate—owner complained that he was not consulted and there was no evidence that he was using water indiscriminately—Ombudsman reviewed legislation empowering Council to impose charges—legislation required Council resolutions – none passed—Council acted without proper authority—levies refunded and domestic rate reinstated
  • Councils advised to keep information for resource consents until all appeals exhausted

    Case notes
    Grape grower sought transparencies used in Council hearing for resource consent—Council had destroyed transparencies in accordance with 15 year practice on basis that the information was generic—Council created new transparencies with same information—grape grower alleged the information was not the same as on the originals—Ombudsman unable to compare the two —Council agreed to change practice and retain information used in hearings until all appeals exhausted