Community access grant finds favour

Most Dunedin city councillors are happy with the amount of use Forsyth Barr Stadium got in the first year of the council's agreement to pay DVML $750,000 a year to provide community access to the venue.

However, they would like to see the service level agreement (SLA) widened, if possible, to allow community groups to use of other council venues, such as the town hall and Glenroy Auditorium.

Councillors yesterday considered a report, provided by Dunedin Venues Management Ltd as part of the 2014-15 annual plan-setting process, detailing what the $750,000 was spent on in 2013.

The report showed the biggest community use of the stadium was through the weekly stadium market, which DVML said nominally cost it about $200,000 to host for the year.

Other activities hosted at the stadium included Relay for Life, marching championships, football and junior rugby matches. To Cr Lee Vandervis, who queried how

a market could cost $200,000 a year, DVML chief executive Terry Davies and council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose said the costs assigned to each use were nominal and based on the commercial rate for stadium use.

That took in overhead costs such as venue rental, and direct costs, such as staff and cleaning for each event, they said.

Mr Davies acknowledged stadium community access was not managed ideally, and a person was to be employed specifically to refine access criteria, pricing and market for community use.

Councillors were also concerned to ensure it was not taking business from other private or council venues, particularly the Edgar Centre, which had an $800,000 annual SLA for community use.

They were assured by staff there were no problems in that regard.

Cr Vandervis voted against both noting the report and widening the SLA to cover other venues, saying the expenses were not credible and the council was not getting value for its money.

''I don't think we should be funding a stadium market to the tune of $200,000 ... By continuing to do this $750,000 access grant we are taking ratepayers' money and using it in the most lavish way possible to subsidise the stadium.''

But Cr Chris Staynes suggested that was a ''red herring'', and the money enabled the community to use a venue that would be out of reach if charged the commercial rate. A resolution from Cr Vandervis to reduce the $750,000 to $100,000 until accurate costs could be assessed, failed for want of a seconder.

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