In a stunning victory for the people of Christchurch, the High Court has overturned the massive twenty four percent rent rise imposed on council tenants by Mayor 'Sideshow' Bob Parker and his council supporters.
Judge Chisholm ruled that the rent rise was invalid and would be squashed.
The case was brought by the Council of Social Services.
Judge Chisholm said that the council had failed to properly assess the impact of the rent rise and had failed to give 'proper consideration' to the views of council tenants.
Furthermore it had also failed to pursue the government funding option to help upgrade council housing - which was something that Wigram MP Jim Anderton pointed out some months ago.
Judge Chisholm's decision is more confirmation that Sideshow Bob and council CEO Tony Marryatt steamrolled the rent rise through council and deliberately prevented any alternative plans from being presented.
The councillors who voted for the increase were Gail Sheriff, Claudia Reid, Sideshow Bob Parker, David Cox, Sue Wells, Ngaire Button and Mike Wall.
Yani Johanson, Norm Withers, Chrissie Williams, Helen Broughton, Sally Buck and Bob Shearing voted in favour of reducing the rent increase to 5 percent.
Councillor Barry Corbett (on a salary of some $83,000) defended the rent rise on the grounds that the increase was smaller in proportion than he paid for his mortgage - Corbett's house is valued over $300,000.
Councillor Sue Wells, another Parker crony, also had no problems with the increase. Like Corbett, the 'politically independent' Wells is deeply unpopular in her Spreydon Ward.
And what about CEO Tony Marryatt? In May he said the 'council's legal team was confident that the correct processes had been followed.'
Still feeling 'confident', Tony? Marryatt is presently busy wiping egg from his face.
The rent increase has already had an adverse impact on the lives of many council tenants.
Council figures show that 110 tenancies ended in July and August compared with 65 in the same two months last year, a rise of 70 per cent.
As well as the financial hardship imposed on council tenants, there has also been the emotional stress. City council tenants are largely on low and fixed incomes – low waged jobs, pensions, welfare benefits, etc. They are perhaps the most vulnerable people in the Christchurch community.
But has Sideshow Bob shown the grace to apologise? No way. Despite being told the contrary by the High Court, Sideshow Bob is still arguing that the rent increase was 'the right decision'!
And, true to form, the arrogant and condescending Parker wants to see if there are grounds for an appeal.
Any appeal would delay tenants being reimbursed their extra rent they have paid since the rise came into effect on July 1.
And, unbelievably, he's even threatened to bring the rent rise back to the council again!
If he does Parker is just digging a deeper hole for himself and his cronies on council.
Now we await the Auditor General's report into the $17 million bailout of failed property developer Dave Henderson.