Furious red-zoned Eskdale resident wants government to take over Hawke's Bay buyouts

Red-zoned residents in Hawke's Bay are furious the Hastings District Council is trying to change its buyout rules, with one demanding central government step in and take over the process.    

Nearly a year on since ex-tropical Cyclone Gabrielle devastated the East Coast, some homeowners are still waiting for a decision by local council on whether they'll have to pay to demolish their own damaged properties. 

Daniel Gale, a business and homeowner in hard-hit Eskdale, told AM on Wednesday "the council is continually shifting the goalposts on our community.   

"We've already lost our homes and our livelihoods, how much more of a contribution do the council want from us?"   

He wants new Cyclone Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell to "step in and take this process away from council in all honesty.   

"Council don't have the resources and capability to do it and it's insulting that we were never going to be consulted on this."   

On Thursday, Hastings District Council will receive a report that considers amending the Category 3 Voluntary Buy-Out policy (VBO) "to enable councils to recover a contribution from property owners, in certain cases, towards the cost of demolishing a dwelling (if relocation is not an option), and to enable minor changes to allow for a more efficient process".   

The Government's cost-sharing agreement originally stipulated that demolition costs would be left to local authorities, but Hastings District Council has argued some insurance payouts include a demolition allowance or were worth more than the value of the homes, so the burden should not fully be on the council.   

Gale owns a holiday park that has not operated since the cyclone and said, "that has affected my family horrendously".   

He and his extended family have also lost their homes and another business so if they had to pay the demolition costs, Gale said "collectively we would be looking at a hit of another couple of hundred thousand dollars".   

Gale said the issue was "people who had done the right thing and insured themselves appropriately to replace their assets did so on a basis of replacement.    

"People who were over capitalised on their properties because they had done them up nicely are now being penalised by not being able to build them back in place with the money from insurance."   

Gale said that the council now wants money based on market value, which he said is not equal to replacement value.    

Gale admitted that some people had insurance which would pay for the demolition but said that many others didn't.   

He also took issue with "the council taking a contribution off those who are uninsured, and those people are already behind the eight ball and now they're going to be further behind". 

Gale felt that council hadn't deemed the demolition costs significant, "but if you ask a cyclone affected person if $20-50,000 is significant, I beg to differ".   

The council will be meeting about the issue on Thursday.   

Approximately 90 properties will be affected by the change which could save the council up to $2 million.    

Hastings District Council told Newshub they would not discuss the report until after Thursday's meeting.