A Dunedin City Council manager has walked away from his
own contract to restock vending machines at Moana Pool, as an
investigation into a possible conflict of interest continues,
it has been confirmed.
Council aquatic services manager Steve Prescott decided to
terminate the contract with Vending Direct Ltd - owner of
four of the pool's eight vending machines - last week, it was
That was weeks after it emerged Mr Prescott had been
receiving up to $10,000 a year to restock the machines,
despite previous denials by the council any of its staff were
profiting from the machines.
The sudden cancellation of Mr Prescott's contract with
Vending Direct took place last Friday, with immediate effect,
but only came to light yesterday.
Information released by council infrastructure and networks
general manager Tony Avery on Wednesday had stated Mr
Prescott still held the contract.
That prompted Vending Direct managing director Paul Faint to
contact the Otago Daily Times yesterday to say that was not
He would not elaborate, but Mr Avery confirmed when contacted
the cancellation of the contract had been omitted from
information released on Wednesday.
''What we should have done in the release [on Wednesday] is
add that it has been terminated as of, I think, last
The contract was due to expire in January, anyway, but Mr
Prescott had decided to do so immediately, given recent media
attention, Mr Avery said.
''He's just made a decision that it's just not worth it.''
Asked if Mr Prescott had been told to make the decision, Mr
Avery said: ''We had a discussion about lots of aspects to do
with the vending machines.
''At the end of the day it was his call.''
Mr Prescott could not be contacted yesterday, but it was
understood he had been told not to talk to the media.
Mr Avery said the council, which was not a party to the
contract, would not face any financial penalty from the early
and immediate termination of the deal.
He could not say if that was also true for Mr Prescott or his
company, Prescott Enterprises.
''I don't know the details of the contractual arrangements
that Prescott Enterprises had with Vending Direct.''
The machines were still operational and Vending Direct was
understood to have made alternative arrangements, Mr Avery
The latest development came after independent auditing firm
Crowe Horwath, which has an office in Dunedin, was called in
to scrutinise the contractual arrangements surrounding the
The investigation was expected to be completed within two
weeks, and would include looking at whether Mr Prescott had a
conflict of interest, it was confirmed this week.
Mr Prescott was in charge of negotiating and renewing
contracts to keep the machines at Moana Pool, while at the
same time profiting from his own contract to restock them.
However, Mr Avery said the council did not yet have a view on
whether Mr Prescott had a conflict of interest arising from