Stadium contracts questioned

A Dunedin city councillor has suggested the amount of private funding for the new $198 million Otago Stadium has been boosted by "dummy contracts".

Cr Dave Cull made the comment at a meeting of the Dunedin City Council yesterday.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times afterwards, Mr Cull said: "The rumour going round is that at least a dozen contracts that are pending . . . that there's no intention of ever signing those . . . they are just there to pack it out."

"I'm only repeating the rumour, but the easy way for the trust to prove that wrong is just to get them signed."

Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said yesterday he was "astonished" a councillor would pass on such a rumour "without any basis".

"Nothing's further from the truth and we'll stand up anywhere, any time, against Dave Cull, or anybody else who wants to make such an outlandish complaint."

Mr Farry said the trust's figures had been independently audited.

". . . and Dave Cull knows this.

"The city council did an audit, an independent audit from an independent accounting firm to check the figures that we presented at the council meeting, and that audit verified the situation."

The trust is required to come up with a total of $45.5 million of private sector funding.

Mr Farry said he was "exasperated" such "phoney stuff" was going on, and he would "dearly love" to know who was responsible for the rumour.

Debate over the stadium arose as the council finalised its 10-year draft community plan, which contains details of funding required for the stadium and the conditions to be met for it to be built.

Several councillors took issue with the process by which the public is being consulted over the stadium, but there was no requirement for the council to consider their submissions before signing contracts to build it.

A resolution, passed on February 9, which sets out the terms and conditions for the council's commitment to the stadium, makes no mention of public submissions.

Cr Cull and three other councillors voted against the plan being put out for public consultation.

Cr Kate Wilson considered the stadium project in the new plan contained more risk to the council than the one that had previously gone out for consultation.

She considered the public should be given the opportunity for renewed input.

"At what point of risk do we have to consult.

"In my mind there has been substantial change."

Chief executive Jim Harland said the ratepayer contribution and the "basic funding risk" had not changed, although the shortfall in funding had.

Cr Chris Staynes considered the project and the economy had changed, and while he had come to the meeting expecting to vote in favour of the document going out, he considered it "disingenuous" for the council to seek consultation.

He gave notice that at the next council meeting he would be moving the council not sign contracts to proceed with the stadium until public submissions had been heard.

Crs Paul Hudson, Fliss Butcher and Colin Weatherall spoke in support of the document going out, in order that the council could gather ideas on ways to improve the economy of the city.

"How do you get good ideas unless you put the document out for consultation?" Cr Weatherall asked.

Cr Richard Walls considered the whole 10-year plan exercise "a waste of time", and suggested only about 20 people would read the entire 424 pages of the two-volume plan.

He challenged councillors to tell of him of anywhere, outside the former Soviet Union, where 10-year plans were required.

He blamed Wellington bureaucrats, and called for a simpler process.

A summary of the plan, along with two other documents, will be posted to 48,500 households by March 14.


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