Thirty-year lease bill forgotten


New Zealand's largest concrete company hasn't been paying the lease on a piece of New Plymouth District Council land for 30 years.

Council property manager Peter Handcock says both council and Firth Industries forgot about the land-locked site until Firth applied for consent to build on the section about 12 months ago.

That was when the council realised Firth neither owned the 4000 square metre section, nor was there a lease.

Mr Handcock says this sort of situation is not uncommon, and has happened before.

"Through the passage of time there's been local governments amalgamated back in 1989, and this is just one of the bits of land that has slipped through the cracks."

Mr Handcock says the company was last billed for the Fitzroy site back in 1986, and the council is trying to find the original lease to see what its terms were.

He believes if Firth was to owe money for the unpaid lease, it would only be in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.

Firth wants to officially buy the land, but until then the council wants it to pay an interim lease.

District Councillor Richard Jordan says Firth is a reputable company and he's sure it was just a mistake.

"There's been an oversight for 30 years... whether it should have been picked up at some time down the line, probably, but it wasn't."

Fletcher Concrete and Infrastructure Ltd, which owns Firth, wouldn't comment on the matter but said it's working with the council for a resolution.  


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