Stadium uppermost in annual plan consultation

There were brief interludes devoted to public toilets, liquor licensing and climate change, but the Awatea St stadium was the most popular - or perhaps unpopular - subject at a Dunedin City Council annual plan consultation meeting last night.

The meeting at the St Kilda Community Club Hall attracted 36 people, including some familiar anti-stadium campaigners.

It was the last of three meetings organised to give residents the opportunity to air their views on the council's draft budget for the 2008-09 financial year and beyond.

The meeting, co-chaired by Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie and Allied Press advertising manager Paul Dwyer, precedes a submission period that closes next Tuesday, and hearings in early May.

Dave Crooks raised the stadium in the first question, asking a panel of Mayor Peter Chin, Crs Andrew Noone, Chris Staynes, Teresa Stevenson, Dave Cull and council chief executive Jim Harland whether a decision on the stadium had been made.

Mr Chin told him the answer was yes, subject to conditions.

Anti-stadium campaigner Bev Butler asked about the increased budget for land acquisition at the site, which she said would not be covered by contingency funding.

She was told by Mr Harland the budget for the land had ‘‘changed considerably' recently, though he could not release the figures.

More than one member of the crowd complained the council did not listen to the public's views on the stadium.

Cr Cull responded his feedback was that there were people both for and against the stadium in the city, and he had to respect both views.

Lyndon Weggery asked how the council could justify increased rates in what he said was a poor city with many elderly people.

Mr Chin said that when Sukhi Turner was mayor the council had once voted for a nil rate increase.

That was ‘‘one decision I regret'', because the next year the council had to deal with all the issues that had not been dealt with.

The panel was asked if it was considering selling the city's water reticulation system, but Cr Noone said there was an Act of Parliament forbidding it to do so.

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