Mayor uneasy about stadium's contract

Paul Orders
Paul Orders
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has expressed concern at the decision to award an audiovisual contract for work inside the Forsyth Barr Stadium to a new, out-of-town company linked to a former Australian bankrupt.

The Otago Daily Times this week reported Dunedin Venues Management Ltd had awarded the contract to DV Audio Visual, a newly formed company with directors in Queenstown and one shareholder in Australia.

At least two Dunedin audiovisual companies were concerned they would be forced to cut staff as a result of missing out on the work.

Mr Cull said he was concerned the decision showed DVML - together with the council - was not making "enough effort" to support Dunedin companies.

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
"You've got to strike a balance in these things between work and income going out of the city and achieving the best value.

"I was not that comfortable in this case. I'm not sure that the right balance has been struck."

The council could not tell DVML what to do, but there had been talks between the two parties since the ODT published concerns about the contract on Tuesday, Mr Cull confirmed.

"There have been discussions," he said, but declined to elaborate.

DVML chief executive Darren Burden was answerable to the DVML board, so neither Mr Cull nor Mr Orders could issue instructions, Mr Cull said.

"We can express concern but we can't give him instructions."

Instead, it was expected DVML's procurement policy would be considered as part of a wider review of the stadium operation later this year, Mr Cull said.

While he did not know the details of the audiovisual contract, Mr Cull said it was clearly "significant".

Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor first raised concerns with Mr Cull and council chief executive Paul Orders earlier this year, after learning former bankrupt Adam Clark, now living in Queenstown, was working at the stadium under the company name In House Productions.

Mr Clark was accused of leaving investors millions of dollars out of pocket while in Australia in the early 2000s, leading to a class action, but not a prosecution.

He was declared bankrupt in 2007, after the failure of another business venture.

When contacted on Wednesday, Mr Orders said he had contacted DVML after Mr Taylor first raised concerns.

"I conveyed those concerns with bells and whistles on ..."

Mr Taylor told the ODT last week he heard nothing more from the council or DVML until learning, earlier this month, DV Audio Visual was being promoted as DVML's preferred provider for audiovisual services at the stadium.

DVML staff confirmed last week they had an agreement with the company, although a contract was still to be signed this week, leaving Mr Taylor worried DV Audio Visual was merely a "rejigged" version of In House Productions.

Companies Office records showed Mr Clark's name was not associated with DV Audio Visual, but the two companies shared some directors and shareholders, including Mr Clark's mother, Linda Clark, in Australia.

Several businessmen spoken to claimed Mr Clark was still involved behind the scenes.

Attempts to contact Mr Clark have been unsuccessful, while DV Audio Visual director Ian Paterson, of Queenstown, declined to comment when contacted.

Mr Burden has declined to answer detailed questions or be interviewed about the contract.


Sorry Mr Mayor

Dunedin City Council set things up so that the DVML board was at arm's length.  They had to do it that way because of how the stadium deal was done.

You made your bed, now lie in it. 


I thought ratepayers throughout Otago were paying rates towards the Stadium?  This is an Otago company so I don't see any issues here....

Board freedom increases board responsibility

With all the ratepayer money going on the stadium, its management must surely have naturally preferred to go for a promising Dunedin contractor. 

Yet stadium management must have the freedom to go for the best deal, no matter where it comes from.  After all, some people with objections to the great stadium often voice concerns of unsound business practices.  We cannot have it both ways.

Management's freedom in this area will have enabled it to carefully weigh options and pick a contractor it believes will offer the best deal - and obviously much better than what was on offer by the two Dunedin companies.  

This naturally also leaves one less excuse for messing up. Let's all now expect the best.  Given the current stadium acoustic challenge it should be easy for time to tell - loud and (hopefully) clear.


DCC gains

It behooves the DCC that they have no power because anything in the too hard basket merely becomes this subsidiary of the DCC to which they can cast aside and say "well we really dont have any say so".

Watch what they try to do to our city water in the future.

What company will they make up to handle that?

Smoke and mirrors - if the DCC wanted they could intervene. It merely suits them to stay this way. 

Sadly this scenario is common

Sadly this scenario of Otago companies missing out on local contracts is becoming a common occurence. Local businesses need to look inwards and ask themselves why. It is not dignified to run to the Otago Daily Times or the mayor after missing out on a contact that has gone through the tender process. It is a tough world out there and maybe local companies need to harden up, learn how to compete and win these contracts.


Can they deliver?

The question is can they deliver?

The second question is. Why have the bit about being in business for 5 years in the procurement policy? Sounds like it is not worth the paper it is written on. This only leads to accusations of nepotism, conspiracy theories and a general lack of confidence in DVML if they don't even adhere to their own policy. Why have such policies, why not be openly "Banana Republic" and save the paper and cost of producing them.

The third question is, is it really much of a saving? Consider the long term benefits of supporting Dunedin based businesses.

Or is it the next balance sheet and subsequent performance bonuses that is the main focus?

Absurd power imbalance

'DVML chief executive Darren Burden was answerable to the DVML board, so neither Mr Cull nor Mr Orders could issue instructions, Mr Cull said.'

What a stupid set- up situation the DCC has put itself in when the Mayor and CEO are left so- called powerless by another council owned entity. A restructuring of DVML can't come quick enough. The whole thing needs to be properly put under the DCC umbrella.

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