Councillors urge rethink of land sale

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
Some Dunedin city councillors are urging a rethink on the sale of a council-owned car park near the Mayfair Theatre, but Mayor Dave Cull is adamant the sale should not be a political decision.

Mr Cull said yesterday council chief executive Sue Bidrose had been delegated to make the sale, and it was not a matter for councillors.

''That's her job.''

But three councillors want at least a discussion on the issue.

The Mayfair Theatre, in South Dunedin, learnt on Monday an adjacent public car park on the corner of King Edward St and Cameron St used by often elderly patrons was for sale, with tenders closing this week.

The issue followed anger from Caledonian Bowling Club members, who last Friday learnt the council would sell the Andersons Bay Rd land the 135-year-old club was on.

The council plans to sell up to 150 plots of surplus land and property over the next two to three years in a move expected to raise about $10 million, targeted for paying off debt.

Cr John Bezett said last night he understood any sale that might be controversial would come back to the council.

''We work on a no-surprises policy, and this one has been a surprise, and I think it should have been flagged to councillors.''

''What I'd like to see is councillors sit around and have a look at it.''

Cr Bezett's comments followed an email from Cr Lee Vandervis to councillors, council staff and media asking: ''How can this public land have been approved for sale without any prior advice to all elected representatives?

''How can this land have been considered for sale without any prior discussion with the Mayfair Theatre?''

Community and environment committee chairwoman Jinty MacTavish said when contacted she could ''not see any harm in it coming back'' to councillors, although Dr Bidrose had been delegated the work, and Cr MacTavish wanted to make sure the process was clear.

Mr Cull said the sale was ''completely under the delegation to the chief executive''.

''The council didn't necessarily know about it, specifically. I didn't, and there's no reason why I would have, because it's within the delegation of the chief executive,'' he said.

Councillors had not been given a list of the pieces of land for sale, and he was not sure all pieces had been identified.

''I assume the property office and the chief executive are just working through bits and selling them as they come up.''

He said if the value of land was ''a certain amount'', it would have to go before councillors for discussion.

Under a certain value, Dr Bidrose had the authority to make the decision.

Mr Cull also said the Mayfair was only one entity that had an interest in the issue.

''In this instance, it's the Mayfair that feels it is the major beneficiary of a public bit of land that no-one pays to park on.

''You could just as easily argue that there are other businesses in that area that rely on that as a car park, too.

''And I'm not detracting from the Mayfair's concerns, but they're only one entity in that area whose patrons would possibly use that car park.

''It's regrettable that the Mayfair and other businesses in the area weren't told.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment