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Britomart: “Auckland’s Shame!”

“A shameful indictment of previous Councils’ secretive wastage of large amounts of ratepayer money.....”

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, was responding to the Birch Expenditure Review finding on Auckland City that Britomart’s costs to ratepayers exceed benefits by more than $100 million.

“How stupidly wrong can successive councils have been to allow the Britomart project to proceed. Equally, there is a transparent message for the new Mayor and Councillors to exercise a close “hands on” management on what happens next on Britomart.”

Firstly, in the early 90s former Mayor Les Mills established Britomart, promising no risk exposure to ratepayers and that it would solve Auckland’s transport crisis.

The Council proceeded against the strong advice of the Chamber of Commerce and others on three key points, all of which have been confirmed in the Birch Review:
 That Council should not be both poacher and gamekeeper. It is a conflict of interest for a Council to set the rules for developers and then interpret them selectively to its own development project.
 That Britomart was not a transport solution for Auckland, but simply a commercial development for the downtown area - and so it has proved.
 That there should be no ratepayer risk.

Secondly, former Mayor Christine Fletcher came to office promising to end the Britomart fiasco, but instead came up with an even more expensive “Son of Britomat” project, greater rate payer risk and no progress in solving Auckland’s transport crisis.

“Council’s confirmation of the project contract, after voting had commenced by postal ballot and the day before the result was declared, was a travesty of local democracy and a breach of trust with ratepayers.”

The message to Mayor John Banks from this shameful performance is not to spawn a “Grandson of Britomart” but to clean up the mess and be brutally honest in doing so!

“Britomart could be a premier commercial development for the down town area, in which case the private sector should take all the risk - both capital and operating.”

It is false to continue to present Britomart as a transport centre when no buses will be using it, and rail options are far from decided. The Council needs to make it transparent that developers will carry 100% of the project risk and that Britomart’s operating costs will be carried by the tenants and users - not ratepayers.

Ends

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