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Wellington Chamber urges Hutt to delay stadium decision

Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Media Statement

Monday 17 March 2013

Wellington Chamber urges Hutt to delay stadium decision

Hutt City councillors should not commit to the proposed Petone sports stadium until the local government amalgamation issue has been decided, says the Chief Executive of the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Business Central, Raewyn Bleakley.

The council will decide tomorrow whether it should support a proposal to build a stadium, at a cost to ratepayers of $25 million to build and ongoing costs of at least $350,000 a year, as part of Hutt City’s draft Annual Plan.

“Hutt City councillors should think carefully before they proceed.

“Councillors must consider the bigger picture – the regional picture – before committing to big ticket items that may not end up being their responsibility.

“Councillors should delay a decision on the stadium until the Local Government Commission has made its determination on council amalgamation. A draft decision is expected shortly and a final decision later this year.

“In our view it would be irresponsible for councillors to possibly commit the region to a bill of $25 million and at least $350,000 a year this close to a decision on amalgamation.

“The whole idea of amalgamation is to gain efficiencies and cost savings for ratepayers by reducing duplication across the region. It’s about being strategic about the region’s assets, rather than competing with councils. A decision to go with the stadium ahead of the amalgamation decision would possibly fly in the face of that.

“It may well be that a unified council would press on with a stadium at Petone, but that decision should be undertaken then.

“If it is decided to not go down the amalgamation path, that’s when Hutt City councillors can do what they like, make their decision, and be accountable to their ratepayers.

“This consideration should be heeded by all councils currently considering proposals as part of the Draft Annual Plan process. They must reflect very carefully before committing to big ticket items that may not end up being their responsibility."

Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Business Central favours a re-organisation proposal that would amalgamate the current Wellington Regional Council areas of Wellington, Porirua, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, and the Wairarapa councils, and adopt a local boards model.

“We want what’s best for the region, and there’s no doubt amalgamation is necessary if the region is to progress. It’s the only way to ensure the region makes the best and most efficient use of its resources."

ENDS

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