A Dunedin City Council manager says he is being ''dragged
through the wringer'' over questions about his private contract
to supply vending machines at Moana Pool.
However, council aquatic services manager Steve Prescott has
also been forced to fend off a fresh claim he rebuffed a
Dunedin aquatic club that asked to take over the contract and
use the proceeds as a fundraiser.
The claim came from a club source, who contacted the Otago
Daily Times but would not be identified, and prompted Mr
Prescott to say he ''honestly cannot remember that''.
''If they did, I can't remember them asking ... I can
honestly say I've never had any written approach from anybody
''Someone may have mentioned it in passing. I honestly cannot
say whether they did or not.''
His response came after council infrastructure and networks
general manager Tony Avery confirmed an investigation had
begun, scrutinising arrangements surrounding the vending
machines contract, ''to ensure they are appropriate''.
That probe was widened last week to include the handling of
an earlier ODT request for information - in February
last year - which prompted a denial that council staff were
privately profiting from the machines.
It was finally revealed last month Mr Prescott, through his
company, Prescott Enterprises, had been receiving up to
$10,000 a year for the past 12 years from a contract to
restock the council-owned pool's machines.
That prompted Mr Avery to say he was ''concerned that the
wrong information may have been given to the media'', while
Mr Prescott apologised if he had ''put a wrong slant on it'',
claiming he might have misunderstood the questions.
Mr Avery said yesterday the investigation was now under way,
but was expected to take several weeks, and he could offer no
further comment yet.
Mr Prescott said he was co-operating with the investigation
but had ''no idea'' how long it would take, or what the
outcome could be.
''I've given them all the information that they've asked of
me, and that's all I can do.''
However, Mr Prescott defended his handling of the contract,
saying ''from my perspective, I haven't done anything
''I feel like I've been dragged through the wringer, really,
for something that was put in place and I had the blessing of
the powers-to-be at the time.
''If that was wrong, they should have told me so, but they
didn't, and that's basically how it's transpired, really.''
Mr Prescott said he was continuing to stock the machines in
the meantime, although he had already expected to hand over
the contract to a new supplier early next year.
However, he said he would ''swear on the Bible'' he had no
other interests in any other vending machines or supply
contracts elsewhere in Dunedin or ''anywhere in New