Opponents scrap over stadium vote

Dunedin's election campaign ignited yesterday, with mayoral candidate Cr Dave Cull fending off accusations he and fellow Greater Dunedin candidate Kate Wilson voted for the Forsyth Barr Stadium in 2008.

Cr Cull also took exception to accusations from former ally Stop the Stadium, now known as Sort the System, that he would "bleed the city for years to come" by voting to grant money to the stadium.

Three council candidates, Brian Miller, Maurice Prendergast and Lee Vandervis, sent letters to the Otago Daily Times claiming minutes from a March 2008 council meeting showed the pair, along with Cr Chris Staynes, of the Greater Dunedin group, had voted for the stadium.

That was contrary to a graphic in the newspaper on Saturday that showed Crs Cull, Wilson, Fliss Butcher and Teresa Stevenson had voted against the project.

Cr Cull responded he argued during a six-hour debate at a finance and strategy meeting against the stadium on March 17, 2008, and voted accordingly.

That meeting ended with a 10-4 vote to commit to the stadium, subject to conditions.

The vote by him and Cr Wilson at an extraordinary council meeting immediately after the committee meeting was for a procedural motion to confirm the resolution that had been taken, not for the stadium, Cr Cull said.

The council meeting ended with a 12-2 vote the agenda described as "confirmation of resolutions" at the meeting, he said.

The minutes of the council meeting showed that vote was to commit to the stadium, but council governance manager Sandy Graham confirmed yesterday it was a procedural vote to confirm the resolutions taken, rather than a substantive vote.

Cr Wilson was of the same opinion.

"Regardless of what the wording said [in the minutes] the council vote was procedural," Cr Cull said.

"Everyone else [at the meeting] understood that."

On another front, Sort the System president Dave Witherow attacked Cr Cull in a newsletter released on Sunday.

STS, which was put into liquidation by the High Court yesterday, claimed in a newsletter put out by Mr Witherow and the committee that Cr Cull had proposed he would look favourably on the idea of further ratepayer funds being used for the stadium.

Cr Cull hit back yesterday, saying the behaviour was "in character" for those running STS, who had turned on their own committee members in the past.

It was a shame, he said, for STS to attack someone who had been "one of their closest supporters", referring to his appearance at the organisation's town hall rally, and financial support for a survey.

The attacks were being made for "short-term political expediency".

Cr Cull said regardless of the 2008 meeting, Greater Dunedin, including Cr Staynes, had voted against the stadium since.

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