Council signs stadium contract

Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, deputy mayor Syd Brown and Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry yesterday signed a contract with Hawkins Construction to begin building Dunedin's stadium.

Only one member of the public attended an extraordinary meeting of the council: University of Otago accountancy lecturer Nicola Holman, as part of her research for a masters degree that includes study of the public perception of the annual plan process.

It is not known whether Stop the Stadium is planning to appeal last Friday's High Court decision to dismiss its application for an injunction to prevent the signing of the contract before the public was further consulted.

President Bev Butler could not be contacted yesterday, and the group's lawyer, Len Andersen, said he was not authorised to comment.

Former Queenstown property developer Basil Walker has filed an application in the High Court at Dunedin for a judicial review of the Otago Regional Council's involvement with the project.

Yesterday, he said papers had been lodged with the court, he planned to hire a lawyer, and was expecting a hearing.

His argument includes that the council had no security for its funding because it would not own the stadium, and that the council had not made it clear whether interest or GST was included.

Regional council chief executive Graeme Martin said he was yet to receive the papers.

"My only response to that is that the council is confident of our processes, and we will seek to have any injunction thrown out of court."

The council would pursue costs.

Mr Martin said he expected a telephone conference to decide the "where, what and how the matter might be dealt with".

The city council meeting yesterday heard a summary of Justice Lester Chisholm's decision from chief executive Jim Harland.

Cr Michael Guest asked Mr Harland about the possibility of getting court costs from Stop the Stadium, and was told the judge had asked the council to submit its costs.

There was a scale of fees which could be awarded rather than the full cost, and he understood the council would ask for between $7000 and $10,000.

Mr Harland also said the council would be spending the government grant of $15 million late in the project, and expected a $2 million return on interest in that time.

Mr Chin said before signing the contract it was "a very, very important part of the pathway" of the project.

Afterwards, he said he believed there was increasing support for the stadium, with more people favourably disposed to it now the final decision was made.


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