Leach's Legacy
Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:59PM
Bill Barclay

There are two important issues relating to the charges that Mayor Leach has levelled at previous councils in relation to the pickle in which he now finds himself. He lashed out at Wednesday's public meeting at the then newly installed 2004 Council for having "approved the (2004) deed", and waved a piece of paper that he claimed proved this. This turned out to be a list of 19 documents that had been 'sealed', and that required Council retrospective 'approval'. The famous deed was an item on that list, and had been 'sealed' a fortnight previously. Thus it was already a 'legal' (and enforceable!) document well before it appeared on that list.

And this is what David Hammond had to say about the document in a letter dated 20 November 2012:

"Although Council's committees widely dealt with the matter, Council itself did not formally resolve the Agreement", and "Mr Ruru's Audit Committee Report in 2011 notes that, in hindsight, it would have been prudent for the proposed acceptance of this land for reserve credits to have been approved by Council".

That would seem to dispose of Mr Leach's first argument in pretty clear fashion.

The second issue concerns the alleged failure of the subsequent Council to obtain a Business Case for the Whitianga Waterways 8/10 hectare land that was the subject of the first deed.

A copy of the Opus prepared Business Case shows quite clearly that it had been prepared for THREE possible sites - 1) a dispersed model involving existing reserves. 2) the Moewai Road 8/10 h. option and 3) the Whitianga Waterways option.

His complaint of the lack of a Business Case is therefore totally without merit - the Case was there, and despite its $585,000 cost, still failed to provide detailed land information in regard to either Moewai Road or the WW site. It was a defective Report prepared by a company that was quite devoid of playing ground  experience. Once again, Whitianga staff had let untendered contracts for work that was ineffective and overpriced. Ruru's alleged 'recommendation' for a further 'business case' should be considered in the light of the information below. It should be pointed out that the only proof that it was a 'recommendation' as stated by Leach is that it was thus characterised in the minutes presented to the following meeting of the incoming almost entirely new Council. Cr Bartley is hardly likely to have questioned it. It is not proof!

In fact, any doubt regarding this matter is dispelled with the content of a paper provided to Council on 22 June 2010 by Steve Ruru (and 'The Leadership Team') under Public Excluded.  All of this paper is relevant, but note the following in particular:

Recommendation 4. Determines that it wishes to to proceed with the develpment of the Multi-Sport Complex on the ten hectare Whitianga Waterways Ltd site and that it does not require a further business case to be developed before making this decision. (my bold) 

And

Business Case
Council's draft Procurement Policy1 requires that a full business case be developed for capital works projects in excess of $500,000. Under this policy, there is also a requirement for the physical works of the value relating to the Multi-Sport Complex to be procured through a competitive tender process.The Mercury Bay Community Board and/or Council has previously considered three business cases relating to the development of a new Multi-Sport Complex in Whitianga.
These were presented in September 2006, December 2007 and February 2010.
Collectively, these business cases have outlined the justification, from a community needs
perspective, for the development of a new Multi-Sport Complex and evaluated the different options between Moewai Road and the WWL site. These business cases have also highlighted the estimated development costs and financial risks associated with each option.

What these business cases do not cover is the contracting methodology, updated development cost estimates and risks associated with the current WWL proposal. A number of these issues have, however, been discussed in the order paper presented to the 15 June Council meeting and in this report. While Council's draft Procurement Policy would suggest that a new business case should be developed for the final proposal now being considered,staff are also of the view that it would be reasonable for Council to determine that it does not require a further business case to be developed. (my bold)

That would seem to destroy Leach's second great 'revelation' about last Council. It also calls into question the veracity of statements made by staff, and the throughness of their research. Or was Mr Leach relying on his own undoubted research abilities?

Although the 2007-10 Council finally approved the project on 29 September 2010, it was only in the most general terms. Whitianga staff then proceeded to operate completely outside guidelines as they had done in regard to the Opus contract, but the work started after the election of the new Council. The new Council therefore has to take responsibility for failures that have occurred under their watch - something that the Mayor appears entirely reluctant to face. They may well prove to be entirely staff failures, as admitted by Board manager Sam Marshall on Wednesday, but that only mitigates the responsibility of Council.

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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