ORC denies breach claim

Claims the Otago Regional Council has breached a High Court undertaking over funding of the Forsyth Barr Stadium have been dismissed as "ridiculous".

Queenstown stadium opponent Basil Walker made the claim in a letter to High Court Justice Christine French and ORC staff yesterday, copied to the Otago Daily Times.

He said the council's involvement in processing an application for funding for the realignment of State Highway 88 - needed as part of the $198 million stadium project - was in breach of an ORC undertaking given in the High Court in Dunedin earlier this month.

The ORC undertaking was not to enter into any stadium funding contract, or provide funding for its construction, until after the ORC's long-term council community plan (LTCCP) was finalised, he claimed.

That was expected to happen after Mr Walker's application for a full judicial review was heard, with a hearing scheduled for the High Court in Dunedin on June 4.

However, ORC director of corporate services Wayne Scott rejected the claims when contacted last night.

The council was preparing a regional roading programme, comprising requests from other bodies including the Dunedin City Council, which was "bound to" include the SH88 realignment, but "we don't fund any of it", he said.

Funding came from the New Zealand Transport Agency and local authorities, and Mr Scott said he was confident the programme did not breach the council's High Court undertaking.

"We absolutely refute there's any breach in the undertaking.

"It's a ridiculous suggestion."

ORC chief executive Graeme Martin also rejected the claims last night, describing them as "crazy rubbish".

"He is confusing [his claims with] statutory process which we must handle on behalf of all roading authorities in Otago."

Mr Walker's letter - to the registrar of the High Court in Dunedin - asked for his claims to be presented "with urgency" to Justice French, who presided over this month's earlier hearing.

"I request that the breach of the undertaking is specifically recorded as an unlawful breach by the Otago Regional Council with illegal intent . . ." his letter read.

Mr Walker's complaint follows another, made during an ORC hearings panel in Alexandra earlier this month, alleging the ORC had breached the court undertaking by discussing the stadium during submissions on its draft 10-year plan.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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