Ex-Moana Pool manager takes role in Ashburton

The former manager of Dunedin's Moana Pool, Steve Prescott, is remaining tight-lipped about a new role running Ashburton's $34 million aquatic and recreation centre.

The appointment comes less than two months after Mr Prescott resigned from the Dunedin City Council amid controversy over his handling of Moana Pool vending machine contracts and media requests for information.

However, it appears he has moved on with help from the Dunedin City Council, after being backed for the new role in a reference from within the DCC, it has been confirmed.

Mr Prescott was not commenting yesterday, telling the Otago Daily Times he had ''moved on'' and had ''nothing at all'' to say.

''I'm happy where I'm at.''

Ashburton District Council chief executive Andrew Dalziel was confident the council had got the right man for the job after sifting through 43 applicants to settle on Mr Prescott.

The controversy surrounding Mr Prescott had been ''thoroughly investigated'' during the appointment process and Mr Dalziel was satisfied he had ''full disclosure'' from Mr Prescott and the DCC, he said.

That included a reference from DCC parks, recreation and aquatics group manager Mick Reece - Mr Prescott's manager until he resigned - and discussions with other senior council staff about Mr Prescott, Mr Dalziel said.

''His exit from Dunedin fitted our need to get an experienced, qualified pool manager.

''We had other good applicants, but he's impressed in terms of his passion. We think he'll do wonders for swimming in Ashburton.''

Mr Prescott's decision to quit the DCC - citing health reasons - came in March, along with an apology for misleading responses to questions about profits from Moana Pool vending machine contracts.

Media had been told no council staff were privately benefiting from the vending machines' proceeds, only for it to later emerge Mr Prescott had been receiving up to $10,000 a year for more than a decade from private contracts to restock the machines.

However, a report by independent auditor Crowe Horwath had concluded the council knew of, and had approved, Mr Prescott's contractual arrangements.

Mr Dalziel said it appeared Mr Prescott had taken on the vending machine contracts ''with the best intent for his customers''.

''I don't think he really wanted to do it himself. He stepped in to fill a gap and, if anything, it became a bit of a hassle doing it.''

However, Mr Dalziel said he was ''pretty hot'' on official information requirements and issues of ''honesty and transparency'' had been ''fully discussed''.

''The pool we're building in Ashburton doesn't have vending machines at the moment and if it does, we'll watch it carefully.

''We think we can manage it.''


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