Councillor says request denied

Rugby Park. Photo by Allison Beckham
Rugby Park. Photo by Allison Beckham
An Invercargill city councillor says his request for more information about the state of Rugby Park was denied by the council’s chief executive.

Cr Nobby Clark was part of a closed meeting this week with Rugby Southland and Rugby Southland Supporters Club representatives, Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and Crs Nigel Skelt and Peter Kett, to address the state of the facility.

After the meeting, Mr Clark said he requested a report outlining the issues around making Rugby Park fully operational from Invercargill City Council’s chief executive Clare Hadley, but it was denied.

"It’s a sad day for democracy when an elected official can’t ask the chief executive to give some basic information that probably would take [her] less than half hour to provide.

"I sought a report from the chief executive which would give me an update on what are the issues, what are the potential costs and what [would be] the timeframe to get [them] resolved."

He said Mrs Hadley declined the request "on the presumption" she would provide a wider report about the matter to the council’s Infrastructure committee on February 17.

"I don’t want the wider information and I certainly don’t want that sort of delay going — given the rugby season is two-three months away. We need to get something resolved."

Mr Clark said the tenants, which included Rugby Southland and Rugby Southland Supporters, were not asking much.

"If you rent a house and have some problems with the pipe, the landlord has the obligation to fix it. This is the same case. They [the tenants] are not asking for improvements — it is the tenant’s basic right."

Last year, Rugby Southland staff had to move out of the stadium offices due to issues with the structure and a toxic mould.

Later, an engineer’s report put more than 1500 seats in the main stand out of use because of worries about spectator safety.

Ms Hadley said her role was to give advice to the council to ensure the requirements of the Local Government Act were met.

"The approach taken this week by a few elected members has had a much narrower focus, rather than considering the issues within their broader context.

"It can be easy to see issues in isolation, but that carries with it a number of risks. It is my responsibility to connect the dots and to ensure council has the whole picture when making decisions."

She said councillors had authority only when meeting as the council — when they considered decisions in a structured environment, based on officer reports and community views.

"It is in that forum that council sets its direction on behalf of all ratepayers, and delegates to me the authority to allocate resources and deliver the work programme."

An Invercargill City Council spokeswoman previously said it had been estimated bringing the affected sections of the grandstand to 100% of building standard would cost $387,000.

Rugby Southland acting general manager Simon Frisby declined to comment after the meeting.

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