Contractor angry at council’s choice

Abernethy Contracting owner-operator Craig Abernethy has called a recent Gore District Council...
Abernethy Contracting owner-operator Craig Abernethy has called a recent Gore District Council decision "unbelievable". PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
A Gore business owner is baffled by a Gore District Council decision to use an Invercargill-based business to complete a construction project.

Craig Abernethy, owner-operator of Abernethy Contracting, voiced his frustration towards the council over the decision to use Invercargill fencing business D. Roberts Fencing Ltd.

The project, which was completed last week, involved the installation of DuraPanel Polo fences at the stormwater catchment basins in Elizabeth St and the Matai Ridge subdivision.

"The council decision to use an out-of-town contractor when local businesses are struggling around town is unbelievable," Mr Abernethy said.

He understood it could be cheaper to go out of town but still did not agree with the idea.

"They need to support their own community and keep the money in town.

"That money would have been passed through several businesses in Gore over the period of the job; supporting local families."

Despite this, he did not believe the council should use a Gore-based contractor simply because they were from Gore.

"I don’t believe the council should go with Gore based contractors regardless of price.

"But they need a broader scope of who they use locally.

"Being short-sighted over this and sending our ratepayers’ money out of town to be spent in Invercargill is completely wrong."

The project cost the council a reported $68,600.

He believed the fence in Elizabeth St was necessary, but believed different for the fence at the Matai Ridge subdivision.

"I still cannot work out why the council thinks they are land developers.

"It’s not their area of expertise."

On a Facebook post last Tuesday on the Gore District Council page the council commented and said that Gore contractors were "not competitive".

Mr Abernethy described this as "unbelievable".

In a second Facebook post on Monday the council said it had responded to comments with misinformation.

General manager critical services Jason Domigan said the contract was given to an Invercargill company because there was a sense of urgency to get the work done and staff believed it would meet the timeframes.

"It has never been the council’s intention to exclude any local business.

"The council uses a lot of local businesses to provide a range of services, from small goods and to our larger contracts."

The event highlighted an internal process issue around procurement, he said.

"Which we will be addressing to ensure local businesses approved to do work for the council are given a fair opportunity to quote for the work."