Activist Penny Bright loses latest battle with council over unpaid rates

By Michael Sergel, Bernard Orsman

Penny Bright pictured in her home, which she hasn't paid Council rates on since 2007. Photo / Chris Gorman
Penny Bright pictured in her home, which she hasn't paid Council rates on since 2007. Photo / Chris Gorman

Activist Penny Bright has lost her latest battle against Auckland Council over her unpaid rates.

Chief High Court judge Justice Geoffrey Venning dismissed an appeal by Bright on Monday in the High Court at Auckland.

Bright had appealed a decision, made by the Auckland District Court in February, which required her to pay her rates, which have been outstanding since 2007.

The summary judgment obtained was for outstanding rates and penalties of $34,182.56, as at 30 June 2015.

In the decision, Venning said: "Ms Bright, like other ratepayers, has an obligation to pay the rates that have been validly assessed as payable by her. Her refusal to do so simply increases the administration costs of the council."

The court also awarded the council costs.

Council group chief financial officer Sue Tindal welcomed the decision: "We have consistently maintained that as a matter of fairness to all ratepayers, Ms Bright should pay her rates."

"As we have also previously stated, taking court action is the last resort for the council to recover unpaid rates. We remain open to receiving a valid application for a rates postponement from Ms Bright and working with her to ensure payment is made in a manner which suits her financial circumstances," Tindal said.

Bright has confirmed to Newstalk ZB she will appeal the case in the Court of Appeal and may even take the case to the Supreme Court.

She said she will not end her nine-year one-person rates revolt until the council meets her demand for transparency. Specifically, she wants "a unique contractor number, the name of the consultant or contractor, a brief description of the scope of the contract, start-finish date and exact dollar value" for every council contract.

After almost a decade of refusing to pay her rates, Bright is confident the law is on her side. She said she will not be paying her rates or leaving her house, and is willing to accept inconveniences like having to source water from an outside hose attached to a water meter.

"There is a hose, which is connected to the water meter, which has been inspected by Watercare, which is quite happy with the arrangement.

"If you have any issues with that, you go to Watercare."

Bright said she still intends to stand for mayor and believes her legal case makes her more qualified than other candidates.

- NZ Herald

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