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  • Local Authority rejects Ombudsman’s recommendation to monitor nuisance as required under RMA

    Case notes
    Local Authority failed to respond to complaints from residents about dust and noise nuisance. What it should have done was to consider complaints from residents by undertaking relevant surveys and tests to determine the extent of the problem being complained about (this is a responsibility under ss17 and 35 of the Resource Management Act 1991)—complaint sustained —Ombudsman recommended the Local Authority monitor noise and nuisance effects—recommendation rejected
  • Local Authority issued a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) unlawfully

    Case notes
    Property developer changed basis of development and obtained new Project Information Memorandum (PIM) containing conditions not prescribed in s 31(2) of the Building Act 1991—complainant considered the contents of the PIM unauthorised as the changes had not been agreed to by purchasers of the owner developing the property and action incurring legal expenses—Ombudsman found PIM not issued lawfully but agreed for Authority to amend the PIM to comply with LGOIMA—complainant offered ex gratia payment in recognition of legal costs incurred
  • Local Authority issues non-notified resource consent for vacant site

    Case notes
    Non-notified resource consent application granted for vacant site – neighbours claimed damage resulted from excavations and complained about the height of the building erected—Ombudsman investigated and found no apparent breach of s 94 of the Resource Management Act or District Plan rules and concluded the Local Authority was not unreasonable to issue a non-notified consent in this case—complaint not sustained—question of liability for damage allegedly incurred by complainants was a civil matter to be pursued in the courts
  • Department of Corrections accepts obligation to consider inmates’ circumstances when deciding work and educational paroles

    Case notes
    Refusal of work and educational paroles before inmate appeared before National Parole Board—inflexible policy inconsistent with concept of individual case management—review resulted in detailed case management plan for inmate
  • Local Authorities should avoid unnecessary delay processing resource consents

    Case notes
    Time limits for decisions made in respect of resource consent applications—ss 21 and 115 of the Resource Management Act—processing delays—responsibility of local authorities to avoid unreasonable delays
  • Request for communications between Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank

    Case notes
    Request for communications between Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank regarding economic growth, monetary policy and inflation outlook—information withheld under ss 6(e)(iv), 9(2)(d), 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i)—markets are extremely sensitive and react to the most subtle signals—if released, Reserve Bank would be likely to become more guarded about what was said at, and recorded after, meetings with Minister—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied and no countervailing public interest considerations which outweighed need to withhold
  • Local Authorities not obliged to adopt narrow user-pays approach when setting rates

    Case notes
    Complaint concerned a service provided by local authority for which a rate was levied—believed as he did not benefit from it, his rates liability should be adjusted—Ombudsman concluded ratepayers cannot expect the level of services/benefits will reflect precisely the rates paid
  • Local Authority unreasonable to allow change to Management Plan without public notification

    Case notes
    Local Authority administering a park, agreed to a non-notified change in its Management Plan and allowed a sports club to expand its building at the park—local resident objected to lack of public consultation—Ombudsman found vague reference in the Plan to sport’s club hoped to expand its facilities, but given the scale and nature of the proposed building, the Local Authority’s decision not to notify a change to the management plan was unreasonable—Authority agreed with decision and commenced notification process
  • Council’s authority to levy Harbour Facilities Charge expired

    Case notes
    Imposition of ‘harbour facilities charge’—bylaw made pursuant to legal authority which had expired—s690A Local Government Act 1974, ss 33 and 427 Resource Management Act 1991
  • Request for documents prepared for Minister regarding Treaty of Waitangi claims

    Case notes
    Due particularity and duty to provide reasonable assistance—s 12(2) and 13
  • Request for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group

    Case notes
    Request by Opposition for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group—s 9(2)(g)(i)—effective conduct of public affairs—public interest balancing—accountability—need for transparency in Minister’s dealings with financial sector
  • Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion—given the sensitivity of the nuclear propulsion issue and the context in which the information had been generated, the withholding of the information was necessary under ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i)—at the time of the review the balance of public interest favoured withholding the information requested—the overall public interest was better served in allowing the Special Committee to complete its review in an orderly manner
  • Request for Court Registrar’s report

    Case notes
    Report on aborted trial released with deletions—‘free and frank expressions of opinion’ by Registrar—no public interest override
  • Request for a copy of paper presented to Cabinet Strategy Committee

    Case notes
    Information deleted from position paper on pricing issues presented by ECNZ to Cabinet Strategy Committee—ss 9(2)(g)(i) and 9(2)(j) applied to some of the information—interest in withholding information in certain sections of the paper outweighed by strong public interest in disclosure—s 9(1)—electricity pricing has a direct widespread impact on a large number of New Zealanders
  • Local Authority should share project overrun costs with residents

    Case notes
    Complaint concerned water supply and sewerage scheme which involved 50/50 cost sharing between residents and Council—cost overrun occurred and residents asked to pay the entire overrun—Ombudsman considered this unreasonable, particularly as the residents not informed about the overrun and that the overrun amount should be shared 50/50 between Council and residents—Council accepted this view