Running battle heads to Court

Statement by Paraparaumu Ward councillor K Gurunathan

“Former councillor Don Briggs must be congratulated for successfully making an application for a declaration from the Environment Court to sort out a two-year running battle of attrition with the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

He has been repeatedly urged to test his legal case through the courts but Mr Briggs has said he was not prepared to hock his house to fund his fight for justice on behalf of the community. Last week he received the green light for an Environment Court judge to consider his case in a pre-hearing for a filing fee of just $56.22 cents.

The expected KCDC response must be that Mr Briggs’ case is frivolous. There is a process for mediation but given Mr Briggs understanding of his case there is no wriggle room for mediation.

Over the two years Mr Briggs has inundated council staff, elected councillors and the media with several hundred letters and statements over the matter. His letters to council staff have been pain-in-the-butt guerilla-type requests requiring responses from senior managers resulting in a ‘waste’ of staff time.

He has also written to the Ombudsman, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and Auditor General arguing his case.

Mr Briggs’ point of legal and political contention was sparked off by the Paraparaumu Airport Private Plan Change 73 decision. He believes council has approved and continues to approve private plan changes under the RMA but without proper public consultation as required under the Local Government Act 2002.

He says the Special Consultative Procedure in the LGA is the mandatory requirement for administering public consultation in any private plan change process.

Council has stated that the private plan changes are managed exclusively under the RMA and as such do not have to be considered under the Special Consultative Process.

In a statement sent to the media in May this year Mr Briggs claimed KCDC was caught between a rock and a hard place. Council had to approve “the most outrageous invasions dreamed up by avaricious self interests in the form of quick buck developments and Council’s original sworn duty to uphold the declared intents of the LGA”.

An Environment Court declaration is an opportunity to bring some finality to this drawn out affair. But given Mr Briggs dog-with-a-bone tenacity even if his case is thrown out he is not likely to stop. If he wins, it will have runaway ramifications.”