Mercury Bay Sports-complex - blame-game!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 6:35PM
Bill Barclay

Predictably, our Mayor is busy preparing for the Deloitte Report into the background of the Whitianga Sports-complex debacle to be presented at Council on 20 February. He was firmly setting the scene for blame to be laid on previous councils during a 20 minute interview with Rex Simpson on Coro FM last Thursday.          

The background to the Sports-complex situation is illuminating of course, and as he said, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth needs to lay where it lies” when the Deloitte Report is further tabled at the Whitianga public meeting on 27 February. But he appears prone to overlook the fact that the $2m over-expenditure that is the real bone of contention occurred entirely within the term of his Council. His admission towards the end of the interview that the previous Council had only approved a $750,000 ablution block for the site, that blew out to $2.5 million under his stewardship, and with apparent ‘cost-plus’ contracting was instructive. 

It is all very well to huff and puff, and sound decisive and bold, but Mayor Leach will have to provide a far better explanation for the $2m over-expenditure than he provided last Thursday – and take decisive action, both procedurally, and in regard to culpable staff. As an aside, the selection of Deloitte’s to undertake the enquiry is interesting – one of its partners sat on the previous Audit Committee which he appears to zero in on. His complaint of his predecessor and others having failed to warn him of apparent deficiencies is derisory considering his outrageous insults during the campaign, and failure post-election to seek any briefing.

Mayor Leach’s attempts to spread blame by reeling off names (including my own) of people who moved or seconded motions in the past suggests a smear. His repetition of Chris Lux’s involvement may be more relevant, but to claim that he knew nothing of the “secret” 2004 Trust Deed with Waterways beggars belief – it was published in the Whitianga ‘Informer’.

What is even more extraordinary is that he managed to avoid mentioning the name of the person principally responsible for almost every major decision in Whitianga since the outset – none other than the previous Board Chair, and now Councillor McLean. This exemplifies the lengths to which our Mayor is willing to go to divert responsibility, and minimize the electoral effects on his thoroughly compliant Council, now his “team”.




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