Carisbrook discussion remains in private

Plans for the future of Carisbrook - now owned by the Dunedin City Council - were debated behind closed doors by councillors yesterday, after a last-minute bid to hold the debate in public was defeated.

Councillors were set to debate an agenda item on "Ex ORFU properties" in a public-excluded section of yesterday's council finance and strategy committee meeting.

The item was believed to be a report relating to the possible sale - or other options for their use - of Carisbrook and the surrounding properties sold to the council by the Otago Rugby Football Union last year. Cr Kate Wilson objected, saying there was "nothing confidential" in the report and it should be moved into the public part of the meeting.

That would have allowed the Otago Daily Times, and the one member of public in the gallery, to hear councillors discuss it.

But council finance and corporate support general manager Athol Stephens warned councillors it was likely commercial negotiations would follow, and anything discussed in public could "quite seriously prejudice" the talks.

Cr Wilson disagreed, saying the public wanted to "understand the process that's taking place".

Committee chairman Cr Richard Walls then moved to end the discussion, saying it could be continued in private and then, if necessary, the meeting moved back into public.

Media were asked to leave, and council staff emerged shortly afterwards to say the item would be remaining in the private part of the meeting.

Contacted after the meeting, Cr Wilson would say only the report discussed "what to do with the properties".

She would not reveal further details, which remained confidential despite her continuing "exasperation".

"I just think we should be more open and transparent - sometimes we are just slightly too careful about stuff," she said.

Pressed on whether the report discussed the sale of Carisbrook and the other properties, she would only say the properties were "factored in to be sold" in the council's Long Term Council Community Plan.

"That's common knowledge," she said.

Cr Walls could not be reached for comment last night.

Last year's deal with the rugby union resulted in the council buying Carisbrook and the adjoining Neville St carpark for $6 million, and properties on Burns St for a further $1 million.

Mayor Peter Chin has previously said no decision on the future use of Carisbrook would be made until after "extensive discussion and consultation".


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