Stop the Stadium to target councillors

Stop the Stadium has a new president and a new mission, with major changes to the organisation following its annual meeting yesterday.

Bev Butler stood down as head of the organisation, with the vice-president, retired Mosgiel man Dave Witherow, taking over.

Mr Witherow, a former Otago Daily Times columnist, said last night he wanted the organisation to move in a new direction.

"It's perfectly obvious we haven't stopped the stadium.

"There's no point pretending it can be stopped; it's now being built.

"Therefore, Stop the Stadium's previous mission is no longer relevant."

The organisation had, however, proved that 80% of Dunedin people did not support the project, something the council had ignored, he said.

"We consider we have a rogue council, an irresponsible council.

"We believe now it's our duty to get rid of those people."

Asked how he planned to do that, Mr Witherow said he had plenty of ideas and a fully thought out strategy, but did not plan to say what that was at this stage.

The organisation's direction could not be changed without consulting members.

He said the city could "look forward to the stadium being a mausoleum".

The directors chosen by the council were "also-rans", and its chairman, Sir John Hansen, had "no business qualifications".

One thing standing in the way of the organisation's future is the $17,000 in court costs it may have to pay following its High Court and Court of Appeal hearings challenging the Dunedin City Council's funding of the project.

The Otago Daily Times understands only a few hundred dollars is left in the organisation's account, and that there was some ill-feeling at the meeting, with members wanting to know more about the financial situation.

Its lawyers were asking the court to award no costs beyond a $4500 bond already lodged; instead they would ask that the council pay $10,500 on the grounds the council had provided wrong information to the courts.

Mr Witherow said he was optimistic court costs would not have to be paid, as he said it was clear the council had "misled" the court about some of the figures, relating to where the $15 million of government money ended up.

If court costs did have to be paid, the membership would have to be consulted about the organisation's future.

About 40 people attended the meeting yesterday.

The organisation has a claimed membership of about 1500.

Ms Butler would only confirm last night that she and her husband, Peter Attwooll, had resigned from the committee.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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