ORC in breach of court, Walker says

Queenstown property developer Basil Walker is preparing documents to the High Court at Dunedin which claim the Otago Regional Council has breached a court undertaking.

He told an ORC hearings panel in Alexandra yesterday it was breaching court orders by hearing submissions on its draft 10-year plan.

Mr Walker is behind the latest legal challenge against the Awatea St stadium, and has launched legal action in an attempt to stop ORC funding for the project.

He attended the council's panel meeting in Alexandra yesterday to make a verbal submission on its draft long-term council community plan (LTCCP) for 2009-19.

Before addressing his submission, Mr Walker told the panel of six councillors they were in breach of a High Court ruling, and he would inform the court accordingly.

"I'm quite concerned you're even holding a meeting here today because I don't think you should be discussing the stadium with anyone.

The undertaking of the court has been breached.

"I think you've made a massive mistake but we'll let the court deal with that.

"I will be informing the court," he said.

Last week, the ORC agreed to contribute $37.5 million towards construction of the $198 million stadium, but Mr Walker went to the High Court at Dunedin asking it to prevent the ORC from entering into a contract or providing funding in relation to construction of the proposed stadium until the ORC finalised its LTCCP next month.

In turn, the ORC gave the court a binding undertaking it would not enter into any contract for funding the stadium, or provide any funding for its construction, until after its LTCCP was finalised.

It was this undertaking Mr Walker claimed had been breached.

Panel chairman Duncan Butcher said the panel was simply meeting to hear submissions on its LTCCP and asked Mr Walker to move on to his submission.

"We are not here to debate issues and we are not in court," Cr Butcher said.

In response, Mr Walker said, "I'll move on but I think that's a pretty weak response."

The High Court at Dunedin had not heard from Mr Walker before it closed at 5pm yesterday.

When contacted by the Otago Daily Times last night, Mr Walker said he was preparing documents and would file them "when they are ready".

"There is no urgency for this because the evidence is to be exchanged right up to June 2.

"There's plenty of time to discuss the breach of undertaking . . .

"I am getting legal advice," he said.

Mr Walker and the ORC's next court date is June 4.


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