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Posts Tagged ‘Upper Hutt’

Upper Hutt residents mobilise to fight State House sell-off

10 June 2016 6 comments

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Upper Hutt, NZ, 4 June – Residents in a State housing community in Upper Hutt are continuing to mobilise to strengthen opposition to planned sell-off of Housing NZ vacant land, and planned further demolition of so-called “un-safe, earthquake-prone” State houses.

Following from previous meetings organised by local community worker and activist, Teresa Homan (pictured on right);

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– read out a petition to Bill English that has been launched calling on the withdraw of public-owned land in Trentham, Upper Hutt, from sale to private developers.

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petition to bill english

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[A full copy of the petition form can be downloaded here]

Ms Homan said she had already been gathering signatures and was “pleasantly surprised” that only a few people had refused to sign it.

Ms Homan represents the St Joseph Parish Justice, Peace, and Development Group. She said that the vacant land they were standing on had recently been filled with State housing that were homes to several families. She said some of families may have been relocated to other State houses further away in Timberlea, or private rentals elsewhere, up-rooting children from their local schools and disrupting their established education and local connections to the community.

Transience is a well-recognised problem for low-income families, as they do not have guaranteed security-of-tenure. A 2010 Ministry of Justice “working document” referred to hardship for vulnerable families, including transience;

Barriers to engagement in services by “hard-to-reach” groups include service level or structural barriers (e.g. location, hours of operation, cost, lack of awareness about availability, lack of cultural responsiveness, and poor coordination between services), and barriers specific to families and their situations (e.g. transience, low literacy, physical or mental health issues, domestic violence, lack of transport, low income, negative perceptions of services, and generally chaotic lives).

There is good evidence about how policy-makers and service providers can address these barriers and improve engagement by those who are hard-to-reach.

Ms Homan said the buildings had been torn down, ostensibly because they were “earthquake prone”. She added that that bulldozers and other wrecking machinary had had difficulty in tearing down the structures.

The land was now for sale to private developers. There is no guarantee that social housing will be built on the site. Ms Homan said she was fearful that Housing NZ would be moving fast to sell the land. She said,

“This is about this local community, but it’s also about land that we own as the public of New Zealand. So, once it’s [public land] sold, it’s gone. And it’s not about not allowing people to have private ownership of land, but this land’s owned by the New Zealand public.

…I think we need to hold onto the land we have for those families that can’t afford private [rental] homes.”

Ms Homan said she had been in contact with Housing NZ and when asked if they had claimed the demolished houses were the “wrong size, wrong place”, she agreed that statement had been used. She said she had lodged an Official Information Act (OIA) request  seeking an explanation why the houses had been deemed “wrong size, wrong place”.

[See related story: State houses – “wrong place, wrong size”?]

One State house tenant, Wayne (pictured below,  in wheelchair) has been waiting for a new state house for four and a half years that is better suited to his disability and use of a wheelchair;

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Wayne said that whilst he had ramped access to his home, and a wet-area in the bathroom, that the rooms in his house and doorways  were too small to accomodate his frame and wheelchair. He said he was waiting for an appointment with Upper Hutt mayor, Wayne Guppy, to discuss his case.

About twenty people from the local  community turned up for the petition launch;

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Their signs publicised the concerns they felt at how Housing NZ and the National government were impacting on their lives;

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One particular sign, bearing three simple words,  was hammered into the ground – a symbolic statement from the community to the National government and Housing NZ;

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The size of the now-vacant land is considerable;

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– especially when seen in conjunction with near-by properties;

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Contrasting National Minister Paula Bennett’s recent announcement offering State house tenants $5,000 to leave Auckland, with the steady decline of state houses in the Hutt Valley, Rimutaka’s Labour MP, Chris Hipkins voiced his exasperation,

“So while the number of state houses in the Hutt Valley is shrinking, and people are being bumped off waiting lists because there aren’t enough houses available, the government have a genius idea to increase demand even further. This is just nuts.”

At a time of rising homelessness and on-going sell-off of Housing NZ homes and land, there is no indication that the National government is changing it’s policy-course. This is despite a recent public opinion poll which condemned National’s inaction of the worsening housing crisis;

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Upper Hutt is just another community enjoying  National’s “Brighter Future”.

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References

Fairfax media: Answer to school transience needed

Ministry of Justice: Who is vulnerable or hard-to-reach in the provision of maternity, Well Child, and early parenting support services?

Radio NZ: $5000 moving grant ‘laughable’ without work

Upper Hutt Leader: HNZ land sell-off resisted

TV3 News: Government gets thumbs down on housing

Websites

Facebook: Upper Hutt State Houses 4 U

Facebook: Housing NZ Tenants Forum

Previous related blogposts

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

Another ‘Claytons’ Solution to our Housing Problem? When will NZers ever learn?

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

National’s Food In Schools programme reveals depth of child poverty in New Zealand

Letter to Radio NZ – Homelessness, Poverty, and the Final Solution

State houses – “wrong place, wrong size”?

State house sell-off in Tauranga unravelling?

Other blogs

TangataWhenua.com: Veteran Activist hospitalised during removal of state houses (2012)

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 June 2016.

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Upper Hutt community concerns at increasing liquor stores

15 August 2012 4 comments

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Upper Hutt is the latest in a series of communities to oppose the growth of liquor outlets and the related problems that they bring to surrounding neighbourhoods.

A public meeting last night (14  August) at the Upper Hutt Baptist Church hall attracted about fifty people – drawn to the meeting by concern at the  spread of liquor outlets in their neighbourhoods..

The meeting was addressed by Andrea Boston, Public Health Advisor, from the Regional Public Health.

Ms Boston began by saying that she would present a “How To Guide” in submitting  public objections against new liquor outlets.

She began first  with a background, citing  similar, recent incidences of communities opposing the spread of liquor outlets . One,  three weeks ago in Trentham, Upper Hutt, resulted in the  community  lodging 70 objections.

Ms Boston referred to opposition to increasuing numbers of bottle stores in Ranui Heights, Porirua,  and Newlands, Wellington. She said,

We’ve been very lucky with the Ranui Heights and the Newlands stores, in that with the large number of objections, the applicant has decided to withdraw their applications. So there are reasons as well  to actually make the applicant  think about  is the right place to put a bottle store, as well as informing the Liquor Licensing Authority and District Licensing Authority around your preferences.”

Ms Boston advised the meeting that Public Notices were usually “tucked away” in Public Notices, which is why they are usually not noticed by the public.

In this instance, the applicant  advertised their notices, as required by law, on 8 August and 15 August in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘,
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Liquor Outlet Public Notice – 8 August 2012

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Liquor Outlet Public Notice – 15 August 2012

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Ms Boston said that  “you’ve actually been quite lucky in this instance that it’s actually come to the attention of others” . People in the community had been alerted by  leafleting surrounding neighbourhoods, to inform others in the community of the planned new liquor store,
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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com Upper Hutt liquor stores public meeting 14 august
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She emphasised that it does pay to regularly scan Public Notices in local newspapers, to be kept informed regarding proposed new liquor outlets that may be planned for an area.

Public notifications, said Ms Boston, require to be made only twice. She added that interested parties have only ten working days from the first-placed advertisement, to make an objection to their local District Licensing Authority.

Ms Boston then explained that objectors must have a relevance to the premises and the area, having a “greater interest than the public generally”. She gave examples for objection; eg; of living nearby, such as living within a kilometre of the proposed liquor outlet; or an area with which an objector has a close interest in, such as a small shopping area; nearby school; church; existing social problems with alcohol abuse; or have regular business ties, and other regular activities.

Other factors could include safety-related problems.

Further grounds for objection can also include the vulnerability of communities, such as low-income/poor; large number of unemployed and beneficiaries; and with an abundance of already-existing liquor outlets. Evidence of acohol-related harm such as liquor bottles strewn about, or loud, intoxicated people at night could also be grounds for objection.

Another example on which objections could be lodged is one which she referred to as failure of “Controlled Purchase Operations”. In plain english; if the applicant has previously sold alcohol to a person under 18.

A reason must be stated for an objection, and criteria for objections usually relate to issues such as suitability of the licensee, and the conditions attached to any license such as opening hours.

Copies of applications for a license are kept, and can be viewed, at local Council offices.

In this case, the Public Notice did not specifically state that the applicant’s documents were available for inspection at the Upper Hutt City Council offices, and instead simply  provided a street address;  “838 – 842 Fergusson Dr“.

Ms Boston said that determining the suitability of a licensee might prove difficult, but  that the NZ Companies Business Register (searchable online) could allow a degree of information surrounding who the applicant was. This might take some time to search, to discover if they have been previously struck off as Directors in any other company.

Ms Boston stated that  there have been  recent changes in the way that legislation has been viewed, and we are now starting to get wider recognition of the   “object of the Act”. A wider concern for “significant probability of alcohol-related harm” is now being considered during the objection process. She gave an example of her opposition to a new liquor outlet opening in close proximity to St Pat’s college in Silverstream.

Ms Boston stated in her objection that she was concerned at the harm alcohol caused to young people; damage to nearby property; and public consumption of liquor in nearby secluded areas.

Possible outcomes of objections could suceed in reducing an outlet’s operating hours. Other restrictions such as reduced advertising could also be achieved.

Ms Boston then outlined how an objections should  be made; in writing; addressed to a local District Licensing Authority; and made before the stated deadline. Ms Boston said that if the community wanted to make their voice heard, that they had to participate in the process. She gave as an example a community response in

Cannon’s Creek, led by one particular individual, who brought people together, to oppose a licensee. She said,

It’s great for community“.

Ms Boston then opened the meeting up to questions.

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Andrea Boston, taking questions from the public gathering.

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Q: Does the Authority look at the differences between Off-licenses and On-licenses, because one takes alcohol away and the other, like the Quinn’s Post,  consumes on-premises?

Ms Boston said it’s hard to guess how the Authority would look at differences. She could not offer any advice on that question, although often it depended on location.

Q: How would someone find out if the application had a conviction for selling to under-age persons?

Ms Boston replied that that would be a matter for Police and Public Health to look into.

Q: A member of the public stated he had been assaulted twice by intoxicated youth. He had been accosted by youth asked to buy them cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.  He said that geographically, there was one liquor store every two kilometres.  He believed that Upper Hutt already had sufficient liquor outlets. He asked Ms Boston what happened to the application for an outlet near St Pat’s College?

Ms Boston replied,  that objections could not be based on density alone. However, she did say that in the past liquor licensing used to be “lax” but that there was now a considerable “tightening of the criteria”. So what may have been permissable two or three years ago, might not be acceptable now.

Q: How fast was the application process once the time period for  objections was closed? What was the time table?

The speed at which applications were processed was difficult to determine, and was  dependent on the “load” of existing applications, and backed-up Hearings, Ms Boston replied. She said there was one Liquor Licensing Authority which traveled around the country, to consider all applications. She added that the Authority tends to conduct it’s Hearings in the main centres; Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, etc. Ms Boston added that at times the deliberation process could take one month or six months.

Q: A question was raised regarding the new liquor outlet at Silverstream whether the application was granted because no one attended the Hearing? An audience member said that Silverstream primary school had strenuously opposed the liquor license. As a consequence of the license being granted, and the outlet opening, their school playgrounds were now constantly strewn with empty bottles, cans, and other litter. The audience member said she found it hard to understand why the application was granted with St Pats College directly across the road, and other schools in the vicinity.

Ms Boston admitted she was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the granting of that particular lience. She advised the audience to visit the ALAC website, where licensing decisions were on public record. Each decision to grant a license was explained by the Authority.

See: ALAC

At this point the policeman responsible for liquor licensing for the Hutt Valley, who also attended the public meeting,  said he had been present at the Hearing, and only two objections were submitted to the Authority.

Q: Another audience member asked if their license can be revoked if they were caught selling to under-age customers?

Ms Boston replied that “it would probably take a little more than that to close it down“.

Q: The validity of the applicant, ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ was raised. A member of the audience said he had done a check with the Companies Office, and said that the only company by that name had been struck of. He considered that if a company could not be searched then he questioned the validity of any application. He further asked if the requirements of the law had been complied with.

Ms Boston said that was definitely a matter to be brought up with the Authority.

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An issue raised by an audience member who stated that whilst  this application had been publicised last week in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘,  yet their identity was still unknown as  the name ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ was not on the Companies Office listings.

Later that night, this blogger carried out a search of the Companies Office website, and did indeed find a current listing for  ‘Euphoria Ltd‘.

The company appears to have been registered on 9 August 2012 – one day after the first Public Notice was published in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader’.

See: New Zealand Companies Office: Euphoria Ltd

Which is just as well. It is illegal for a business to present itself as a limited liability company when, in fact, it is not. The member of the public had done his homework – and ‘Euphoria Ltd‘ had just scrapped through.

Q: The next question was directed at the policeman present, and asked if there was any area of concern around this license application?

The policeman replied that Police were always concerned with alcohol-related offending, and that they were obviously in favour of reducing that.

Q: Another member of the public asked which shop was intended to be the liquor outlet, as there were two on the Whakatiki St/Fergusson Drive  intersection that were currently empty.

The correct shop was identified.

Q: Another person immediatly  asked if they had met their legal obligations by placing the required  public notice in the window of the relevant shop. He pointed out he had seen no such public notice.

Another member of the public pointed out that a “public notice” had been placed on the window. But it’s size was such that it’s value  was questionable.

The next day, this blogger visited the shop in question, and took these photographs,
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Can anyone spot the public notice in the photograph below,

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The “public notice” consisted of the same advert placed in the ‘Upper Hutt Leader‘, and measured barely larger than a Driving License,

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Not exactly helping to keep the public informed, one could say…?

There were further questiions and answers as the public meeting progressed.

The Pastor of the Upper Hutt Baptist Church advised the meeting that he and two other Churches, of separate denomination, were co-ordinating public opposition to this problem and welcomed ongoing community participation.

The Pastor said that this would be an inter-denomination group, and participation from the wider community was welcomed and encouraged.

Toward the end of discussion, Ms Boston stated that this was the community’s opportunity to be proactive. It was important for people to make their voices be heard and not sit on our hands.  She  pointed out that copies of a booklet were available to the public to take away. The booklet gave clear explanations and examples of how to draft and lodge a submission with the Upper Hutt District Licensing Agency.

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Lastly,  a show of hands was requested to indicate how many was opposed to the new liquor outlet, and would be prepared to lodge a submission opposing the proposed outlet. The response, as far as this blogger could determine, was a unanimous ‘forest’  of hands that shot up.  (If anyone dissented, they were invisible in their opposition.)

Those attending, from the community, seemed unequivocal in their views; the public were sick of an endless proliferation of liquor outlets, and the subsequent problems that ensued.

This blogger will also be lodging a submission on this matter.

Though two additionals point needs to be raised here:

1. Public Notices

A “public notice” in a shop window that is barely visible to passers-by is unacceptable. It makes a mockery of the whole process of public involvement.  Government must amend the law on this matter and stipulate a minimum size for a public notice  – or not bother.

If a “public notice” can be marginally larger than a driver’s license, then what is the point of having such a notice?

At the very least, a public notice should be minimally the size of an A3 (two A4 sheets of paper) in size.

2. Period of Lodging an objection

Quite simply, ten working days is far too short. We all lead busy lives and attempting to gather relevant information to draft a sensible submission requires more than just ten days.  That is simply inadequate. Especially when the Licensing Authorities give themselves anywhere from one to six months to consider an application.

This blogger suggests two weeks (14 days, including weekends) as the minimum time required for the public to have meaningful participation in this process.

This country already has a growing, endemic alcohol problem.  Communities  must be given every opportunity to address these problems and to initiate solutions.

Otherwise, the process is patently one-sided, and designed to suit business interests rather than communities. And that is simply unacceptable.

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Previous blogposts

Our ‘inalienable right’ to destroy communities through alcohol abuse.

New Zealand 2011AD: Drunken Mayhem and a nice Family Day Out.

Community Needs vs Business Demands

Just what we need

A kronically inept government

Booze – it’s time for some common sense

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From Totara trees to shiny, pretty, plastic

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New Zealand prides itself on it’s Clean & Green image.  As a nation we trade on that image in a $5 billion tourism industry as well as localised film production. Our natural wilderness beauty was practically a co-star in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

But when we say we like our environment Clean & Green – what does “green” actually refer to? Surely not this,

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It is interesting that UHCC Parks Manager, Brett Latimer, states that the removal of the totara  was “outlined in the plan approved by the Council”.

I can find no reference to any removal of any totara trees from the Maidstone Park development in the District or Annual Plans.  In fact, there is no reference to the removal of any native trees in either document, that I can readily find.

The only reference to the removal of trees is unwanted exotics, such as pine trees.

From the Upper Hutt City Council Annual Plan,   2011-2012,

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No mention of felling totara trees.

The District Plan, though, is quite clear on the protection of native trees,

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The Council’s tree protection policy page is mysteriously unavailable to view,

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Which raises some pertinent questions on this whole curious issue. Questions which I have put to Upper Hutt’s mayor, Wayne Guppy,

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from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Wayne Guppy <wayne.guppy@uhcc.govt.nz>
date:    Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM
subject:    Draft Annual Plan/Parks & Reserves/Maidstone Park

Wayne Guppy
Mayor,
Upper Hutt

Sir,

In the recent edition of the “Upper Hutt Leader” (18 January), Rosemary McLennan reported on the felling and removal of two totara trees from Maidstone Park.  Both trees were estimated to be approximately 80 years old.

UHCC Parks Manager, Brett Latimer, stated that the removal of the totara  was “outlined in the plan approved by the Council”.

I have looked at , and can find no reference to the removal of native trees. The only reference to removal of trees is under the heading “Ongoing revegetation of Maidstone Park”, which refers to pine trees.

The removal of the totara would appear to conflict with the District Plan (2004); Subdivision and Earthworks, which states in part,

“9.2.3
That subdivision, earthworks and vegetation removal do not adversely affect significant natural landforms, areas of significant indigenous natural vegetation or significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
Land disturbance in sensitive locations can seriously damage or denigrate the visual amenity of the environment. In the case of Upper Hutt, the eastern and western hills are an important component of the landscape and visual appeal of the City. The scarring of land, whether urban or rural, detracts from the visual quality of the City.
Land disturbance in sensitive locations can also seriously damage or destroy the ecological values of the environment.”

My questions are;

1. Is it Upper Hutt City Council policy to fell mature native trees, when they show no sign of disease?
2. What protection does UHCC give to trees on Council land, considering that trees on private land may be protected under the District Plan, Schedule of Notable Trees?
3. Can you point to where Brett Latimer’s statement, the removal of the totara  was outlined in the plan approved by the Council?
4. Was formal permission granted to remove these trees, and if so, by whom?
5. Does Council intend to remove any other native trees from Council reserves, parks, etc?
6. Will Council act to protect remaining native trees from felling?

And lastly, do you think it is appropriate that two mature native trees – totara in this case – should be destroyed to make way for artificle turf development? Does it not seem somewhat bizarre that natural, native, fauna is removed and replaced by what is, essentially, a form of plastic?

I look forward to your response.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking

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Upon receipt of a response from the Mayor of Upper Hutt, I will update this blog-post.

However. Based purely on the story in the “Upper Hutt Leader” and information on the Upper Hutt Council’s own website, I am led to the following conclusion,

  1. The destruction of two mature totara trees – free of disease, and not an immediate threat to life, limb, or power lines – so that artificial “turf” can be laid, beggars belief. This is a form of vandalism that I had thought we had left behind.  Clean & “Green” does not mean artificial grass.
  2. The Upper Hutt City Council seems unaware (or willfully ignoring of) their own policies regarding mature native  trees.
  3. There  seems no sane purpose in planting native trees, at ratepayers’ expense,  and  as Council policy dictates – only to have  them later felled and removed because of “convenience“. It took an estimated eighty years for these magnificent trees to reach their mature state of development – and in eight hours they were destroyed.

One wonders what  is the point of the Upper Hutt City Council having a Schedule of Notable Trees, to protect trees on private properties, if Council itself is not willing to lead by example.

It will be interesting what explanation – if any – Mayor Guppy has on this issue.

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Updates

Acknowledgement from Mayor, Wayne Guppy,

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from:    Wayne Guppy Wayne.Guppy@uhcc.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 8:16 AM
subject:    RE: Draft Annual Plan/Parks & Reserves/Maidstone Park

Thank you Frank for the email.I will follow it up and get back to you shortly

Thanks Wayne

Wayne Guppy
Mayor Upper Hutt City

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Acknowledgment

Thanks to Sharlene for bring this issue to my attention.

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