Who’s being disrespectful, Lianne?

A case of the disrespectful pot calling the kettle black, perhaps?

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has complained about Keep Our Assets Canterbury (KOA) being “disrespectful” because, for the first hour of today’s City Council meeting, we silently held up a banner and placards naming and shaming the eight Councillors (including her) who voted to sell publicly-owned assets, starting with City Care.

She complained that it was “disrespectful” to do so during the public participation session at the start of the meeting. Let’s leave aside the obvious irony of the Mayor condemning public participation during the time set aside for it.

If we had made any noise, disturbance or scene whatsoever, she (and those members of the public) may have had grounds for complaint. But, no, our protest was entirely silent and took place behind the backs of those members of the public presenting to the Councillors. They would not have even known we were there if the Mayor had not raised the subject. The fact that she did shows that she is starting to feel the heat on the issue of asset sales. And so she should, along with the other seven Councillors named and shamed on our placards – they were the targets of our protest, for which we make no apology.

Nor do we think that Christchurch people who come along to speak to a Council meeting are of such a delicate constitution that they might faint at the sight of silent protestors holding up a banner and placards speaking truth to power.

On the subject of disrespect, KOA wants it put on the record that twice recently we have written to all Councillors on the subject of asset sales and in neither case have we received so much as a formal acknowledgement from the Mayor. A case of the disrespectful pot calling the kettle black, perhaps?

But the real disrespect here is from those eight Councillors, including the Mayor, who, despite having no mandate from the 2013 election (when the subject was never mentioned), voted to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of publicly-owned assets, starting with City Care. That is disrespect for the electorate and disrespect for the overwhelming majority of submitters to the Long Term Plan who demanded that the Council not sell assets (of those who made a submission on asset sales, 83% were opposed to them).

KOA has no intention of letting those sellout eight Councillors off the hook on this issue.

Christchurch City Council Is Flying Blind

Just What Is The Impact Of The Changes To Council Housing

Christchurch City Council: flying blind and deliberately so
The Christchurch City Council (CCC) is the second biggest landlord in NZ (after the State). So, any changes with the city’s publicly-owned housing portfolio are a big deal.
Just such a major change is about to take effect from July, when the Council becomes a Community Housing Provider (transferring its social housing to a Trust of which the CCC is a 49% shareholder).
 And the Council is flying blind into it without having any idea as to the impact.
Keep Our Assets Canterbury (KOA) asked the Council, under the Official Information Act, for: “any analysis, working papers and reports addressing the impact, of the establishment of Otautahi Community Housing Trust, on;

a)      Council’s Social Housing Strategy and related Council polices and obligations
b)      Staff currently employed in the City Housing unit at CCC.
Council declined the request because it “would require a considerable amount of collation and research to complete”.
So, it seems glaringly obvious that the Council has done no such impact assessment.
It is utterly outrageous that Council has pursued the establishment of the Community Housing Trust without even a cursory glance at what that may mean for Council’s ongoing rights and obligations (to the community (let alone its’ own staff).
An “impact assessment” is management 101, particularly on a matter as fundamental as surrendering control of an asset as important as our publicly-owned housing and which affects so many people. Yet we are assured that it has not been done.
This is the managerial equivalent of demolishing your house without having given any thought as to where you’re going to live.
Not only is the Council flying blind into this, it is doing so deliberately.

Christchurch Council Housing Changes Not All We Were Led To Believe

Did Government Change Terms Or Was Council Wilfully Blind?

Dead Rats Aplenty 
 The Christchurch City Council (CCC) is the second biggest landlord in NZ (after the State). So, any changes
with the city’s publicly-owned housing portfolio are a big deal.

Just such a major change is about to take effect from July. And it is not as benevolent as we have been led to believe.

The decision to become a Community Housing Provider (i.e. transfer the City Council’s social housing to a Trust of which CCC is a 49% shareholder) was sold to the public as a method to increase income and assist tenants in attracting higher subsidies  
“Under this new structure, the Council would lease its social housing to the new entity. For each social housing tenant who qualifies for the IRRS, the new company would receive from the Government the difference between the actual market rent and the rent paid by the tenant. 
This would be substantial revenue and would be enough to enable us to continue, rebuild and repair our social housing without any charge on rates. It also provides a great base to keep building on the provision of housing for those in need. And at the moment that's a lot.”  
Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, May 30, 2014
The actuality is somewhat different: only new tenants will attract the IRRS (Income Related Rent Subsidy) and only if they have been referred by the Ministry of Social Development to the new trust. 
“The Government confirmed to Council that only new tenants referred to the proposed Community Housing Provider by the Ministry of Social Development will be eligible for an Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS).” 
Christchurch Housing Accord Monitoring Report, December 2014
In political terms, such a major unpalatable change is called “swallowing a dead rat”.

But this particular dead rat was sold to the people of Christchurch (the owners of this extensive public housing portfolio, built up over generations) as if the Government subsidy would apply to all Council tenants, not just new ones.

As it stands, this is going to bring in a lot less by way of Government subsidies than what the public (and media) have been led to believe.
Hows that for  win-win deal 

And, in the process, the City Council is losing 51% ownership of its own housing.

How’s that for a “win win” deal!

So, did the Government – ideologically committed to privatisation, including of State housing – change the terms of the deal or was the Council wilfully blind?

Probably a combination of both. But the Council can’t pretend it didn’t know. 

That same December 2014 Christchurch Housing Accord Monitoring Report says, under “Priority Actions”:
“Council to consider how best to proceed with establishing the CHP given current Council tenants will not be eligible for IRRS” 

So the Council, willingly or otherwise, has swallowed a dead rat. And the people of Christchurch have been sold a pig in a poke.

This does not augur well for any other pending privatisations, such as City Care.

Time to Act

Annual Plan and Long Term Plan

Submissions Due to Close

A quick reminder that submissions on The Annual Plan and LTP close Tuesday May 10th.

If you wish to make submission you’ll find all the relevant documents here http://bit.ly/1TLFi23

There is an opportunity to have a face-to-face with Councillors this at 1pm this afternoon. Details here http://bit.ly/1Tq87hz