A letter sent to a non-profit group advising it may need to pay a $314 annual charge was an "error", a Tauranga City councillor said today.

Councillor Leanne Brown posted a video on her Facebook page today admitting the council got it wrong when it sent a letter to the Bayfair Community Gardens, advising them a charge of $314 a year was proposed in the Long-Term Plan 2018-28.

The council has moved to standardise land use charges for community groups that own buildings sitting on council land.

However, there was community outrage this week when the community gardens' plight was published, as they felt they were in no position to pay the bill.


Brown said councillors and staff had received thousands of "nasty" letters over the matter.

"We realise at the time when we adopted the policy and told staff to go ahead we should have actually looked at the 55 organisations on the spreadsheet and worked out for ourselves that the like of Bayfair Community Gardens - that give 100 per cent back to the community with food and to the foodbank - they shouldn't be subject to this.

"It was an error on our part that we missed it. We didn't know they were going to be one of the recipients of a letter and a notification. We've got these steps in place to fix it, the councils are talking about it . . . "

Brown said the council was actively trying to work it out.

Thought a verbal explanation and update regarding the Bayfair Community Garden was better than text ... my first attempt at video on Facebook!

Posted by Leanne Brown - Looking After Locals on Thursday, 15 March 2018

"We've been working on this hard since last Friday. We have been subjected to thousands of nasty comments on social media and I can understand how it looks but you know, it's not all as it seems.

"We do really, really appreciate the hard work the Bayfair Community Gardens do for our community."

Asked by the Bay of Plenty Times about the many other clubs and community groups feeling hard-done by in the council's proposed fee schedule - which will raise charges for about 25 community groups - Brown said they should make submissions to the Long-Term Plan and tell the council they were not happy.

"We may throw the idea out altogether."


She personally believed there was a difference between groups such as the garden which gave everything it produced to the community, and, for example, a sports club whose members benefited from its work but the wider community largely did not.

She felt there was a case to give the former a break.

The council did not have the list of 55 groups who would be affected by the change when it voted it through last year.

If it did, councillors might have gone through and made a different call for organisations such as the foodbank, Brown said.