Mayor uneasy about stadium's contract

Paul Orders
Paul Orders
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has expressed concern at the decision to award an audiovisual contract for work inside the Forsyth Barr Stadium to a new, out-of-town company linked to a former Australian bankrupt.

The Otago Daily Times this week reported Dunedin Venues Management Ltd had awarded the contract to DV Audio Visual, a newly formed company with directors in Queenstown and one shareholder in Australia.

At least two Dunedin audiovisual companies were concerned they would be forced to cut staff as a result of missing out on the work.

Mr Cull said he was concerned the decision showed DVML - together with the council - was not making "enough effort" to support Dunedin companies.

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
"You've got to strike a balance in these things between work and income going out of the city and achieving the best value.

"I was not that comfortable in this case. I'm not sure that the right balance has been struck."

The council could not tell DVML what to do, but there had been talks between the two parties since the ODT published concerns about the contract on Tuesday, Mr Cull confirmed.

"There have been discussions," he said, but declined to elaborate.

DVML chief executive Darren Burden was answerable to the DVML board, so neither Mr Cull nor Mr Orders could issue instructions, Mr Cull said.

"We can express concern but we can't give him instructions."

Instead, it was expected DVML's procurement policy would be considered as part of a wider review of the stadium operation later this year, Mr Cull said.

While he did not know the details of the audiovisual contract, Mr Cull said it was clearly "significant".

Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor first raised concerns with Mr Cull and council chief executive Paul Orders earlier this year, after learning former bankrupt Adam Clark, now living in Queenstown, was working at the stadium under the company name In House Productions.

Mr Clark was accused of leaving investors millions of dollars out of pocket while in Australia in the early 2000s, leading to a class action, but not a prosecution.

He was declared bankrupt in 2007, after the failure of another business venture.

When contacted on Wednesday, Mr Orders said he had contacted DVML after Mr Taylor first raised concerns.

"I conveyed those concerns with bells and whistles on ..."

Mr Taylor told the ODT last week he heard nothing more from the council or DVML until learning, earlier this month, DV Audio Visual was being promoted as DVML's preferred provider for audiovisual services at the stadium.

DVML staff confirmed last week they had an agreement with the company, although a contract was still to be signed this week, leaving Mr Taylor worried DV Audio Visual was merely a "rejigged" version of In House Productions.

Companies Office records showed Mr Clark's name was not associated with DV Audio Visual, but the two companies shared some directors and shareholders, including Mr Clark's mother, Linda Clark, in Australia.

Several businessmen spoken to claimed Mr Clark was still involved behind the scenes.

Attempts to contact Mr Clark have been unsuccessful, while DV Audio Visual director Ian Paterson, of Queenstown, declined to comment when contacted.

Mr Burden has declined to answer detailed questions or be interviewed about the contract.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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