Council gains access to CST documents

Sue Bidrose
Sue Bidrose
The Dunedin City Council has secured an agreement that will avoid ''a battle of lawyers'' over access to stadium-related documents held by the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose says.

However, Dr Bidrose said she could not give the trust's spending a clean bill of health until after any missing material was handed over.

The agreement came after a meeting between council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose, council staff and CST chairman Malcolm Farry on Tuesday.

It followed claims by stadium critic Bev Butler last month the trust was withholding information from the council, while releasing invoices to her that raised numerous ''red flags''.

Dr Bidrose, contacted yesterday, told the Otago Daily Times she could not say whether the trust had improperly withheld information from the council.

Nor could she say whether Ms Butler's claims about CST spending and record-keeping had any merit.

''Until I have access to a full set of documents, I couldn't comment on what might or might not be in them.''

However, she talked to Mr Farry last week, and met him on Tuesday, to discuss access to the CST's records.

The CST acted as the council's agent on the project to build Forsyth Barr Stadium, and the council's legal opinion confirmed CST documents relating to the stadium should be available under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

Mr Farry had agreed to grant access to all material held by the CST which related to the stadium, she said.

''We've been working very well and collaboratively there to give us all of the documents that we're entitled to, if we don't already have them.

''Certainly, there is a whole lot of information that he has provided. There's a question about whether he has provided everything, and there is some stuff we're not entitled to.''

Council corporate services group manager Sandy Graham would meet Mr Farry later today to view documents and ensure the council had everything it was entitled to, Dr Bidrose said.

''He [Mr Farry] is saying he's very comfortable with that position.''

Ms Butler made her claims while calling for a ''full forensic audit'' of CST spending during last month's council long-term plan hearings, prompting Mayor Dave Cull to request a report from Dr Bidrose.

Mr Cull told the meeting his informal ''inquiries'' suggested Ms Butler was right, and material was being withheld from the council, although he could not cite examples at the time.

Mr Farry, speaking late last month, denied withholding information from the council, saying the trust had acted with ''the upmost integrity'' throughout the stadium project.

He would not be drawn on Ms Butler's other claims, describing them as ''slanderous''.

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