Claim Leith work lets Govt off obligations

By going ahead with the work on the Water of Leith, the Otago Regional Council is giving the Government a way out of its funding obligations, Cr Gerry Eckhoff says.

Yesterday, the council adopted the option of completing flood protection works on the Leith at a revised cost of $83 million, with a view to pursuing a contribution from the Crown.

Cr Eckhoff said he was against ratepayers footing the bill for all the work when 50% of the area affected was under the control of central government.

It was a unique situation but "removing the boot off the neck of the Government" would mean less likelihood that it would "come to the party", Cr Eckhoff said.

He called for votes on the adoption of the option to be recorded and was the only councillor to vote against it.

Cr Trevor Kempton said the council had no option but to continue with the work on the Leith, as it was core business to maintain flood protection in the area to an acceptable standard.

"I don't think we have a choice. The security of the CBD (central business district) and essential services."

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said it was a significant decision, as the work towards this had been ongoing for at least 10 years.

"It's expensive, but it's absolutely necessary."

Cr Bryan Scott said the council needed to work positively with the University of Otago to realise their vision for the Leith as well as flood protection of the area.


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