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Ben Day Replies to LGOI Request

The following is the reply received today to the third set of questions subitted in relation to the Business Growth Fund. The reply was received without prompting well within the 20 working day limit.

I would point out that I rapidly corrected the error (18 March, correcting post of 15 March) in relation to the totality of the Fund ($20,000 - not $200,000), but point taken.

Bill, regarding your request for information relating to the business growth funds: My responses are below:
a)         What was the closing date for applications to the 2013/14 Business Growth Fund?
            Originally the closing date for applications was 31 May 2013, this was extended in the end to 31 August 2013 after feedback from many potential applicants said the timeframes were a bit tight. 5 of the applications came into Council after the original deadline. I made the final decisions in mid-November 2013.
b)         What were the names of the applicants, and the dates the applications were lodged?
1.     Te Kouma Harbour Farms           - 3 May 2013
2.     Tairua Ferry Services                  - 31 May 2013  
3.     Coromandel Oyster Company       - 31 May 2013
4.     Omahu Valley Citrus                    - 30 May 2013
5.     Canyonz                                     - 23 July 2013
6.     Coromandel Adventures              - 6 June 2013
7.     Bullion Restaurant                       - 12 June 2013
8.     Guru Digital Media                      - 20 August 2013
9.     Art Down Under                          - 14 June 2013
c)         What method was used for the weightings applied to these applications?
All 9 applicants were assessed and scored on the basis of the criteria that can be found here.
d)         What was the system creation date, and time of the weighting matrix for each applicant?
The criteria were created prior to the close of applications and all applications were assessed after the receipt of the last application.
e)         Can I please be provided with a copy of the completed weighting  matrix for each applicant?
Unfortunately not, the matrix contains commercially sensitive information relating to the applicants business activities, financial viability and judgements made about that information by staff.  In accordance with sections 7(2)(f), 7(2)(b)(ii) and 7(2)(j) we believe that information should not be released. Further there is no public interest that  render it desirable to release the information. If you object to the withholding of the information detailed above, you have the right to appeal to the Ombudsman.  Requests must be in writing and should be directed to the Ombudsman's office, PO Box 10152 Wellington 6143.  The Ombudsman's contact phone number is 0800802602
f)          Can I please be advised precisely when were payments made to each successful applicant?
The grant was made in two payments, 29 November 2013 and 19 December 2013, upon production of receipt/invoices evidencing expenditure by the successful applicant.
I can confirm that Guru Digital Media were the recipients of the 2013/14 Business Growth Fund of $20,000 (not $200,000 as seen in your blog). In closing might I take the opportunity to say that we conducted a very comprehensive marketing campaign, the fund and application process was no secret. The Guru application was assessed on its merits and was by far the most compelling application, with a very strong track record of employment growth in Thames. The fund was all about supporting companies creating employment. Guru was the only applicant that was actually growing substantial and real jobs for the Coromandel.
Guru have used the funding to re-establish the business at the old Placemakers site, as it had out grown it's premises due to growing from several staff to over 20 in a year.
Kindest regards,

Ben Day

I make no comment at this stage regarding the content o the reply - rather I will leave it for readers to draw their own conclusions.





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Reader Comments (4)

Well there you are Bill - all the answers and no need for a'prompt' plus Kind Regards thrown in for good measure. Ever the one to be cautious - here is a little disclaimer--this 'comment' is from my home computor outside work hours! - so no need for the 'forensic team to go through Council computors.

Now that reply has got me thinking [and some of my mates as well] and it leaves more questions than answers.
Why was the date extended from May 31st - Day had already had 4 people in the bag as such by that date --- but the date for Guru application is almost 3 months later. Guru ,who do the Council website and as such would have been aware of the grant much earlier than most people-- causing some people think that Day actually invited them to apply for the grant [after the closing date].
And why had they not put their hands up earlier-?- was it because they [Guru] knew the grant was for 'NEW businesses TO THE DISTRICT' and Guru [applicant] could 'NOT BE DIRECTLY COMPETING WITH OTHER LOCALLY ESTABLISHED COMPANIES' [Council website info]-----ooops a local IT company, Track 24, was already in the game [and one of our providors of computor programmes to TCDC].-- surely Day would have been aware of that fact??

Interestingly Guru used the grant' to re-establish the business at Placemakers old site' -- no secrets there, BUT it is well known the building is owned by the Grahamstown Properties Ltd - which begs the question why would Council put our money into something that Guru do not even appear to own - [maybe Day could confirm who owns the land and buildings?] or have we all missed something in the fine print?

Day's answer for [e] may require you Bill to take up his offer of contacting the Ombudsman because there is some thought that Guru got almost a perfect score.
But the final kicker is that some of the paperwork appears to be signed in March 2014-[ 3 months after the grant had been made -though possibly this could have come about because of an oversight by Council staff!]-- presumably by the Mayor, CEO and Deputy CEO--all about the time Bill you first asked the first questions under OIA!!!
Have a strange feeling about all what is going on - now with the IT Manager seemingly a gone burger and outside people checking up on the staff's computors- all seems a little messy to some of us -
More thoughts, ideas, suggestions anybody-- jobs may be swinging on what is happening at Council - we need definitive answers???

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterC.I.A

I too happen too think that there are still questions that need answering, and that an approach to the Ombudsman as suggested by C.I.A. may indeed be in order. In particular, the fact that the sign-off appeared to have been hastily completed following the submission of the 3rd OIR. I will compile an appropriate enquiry in due course, but would prefer the full range of questions to be established - rather than have to submit additional material later. Anyone is welcome to contribute any additional matters by email -, if unwilling to submit through this comment base.
On the face of it, there appears to have been significant divergence from SOP in this particular case, and evidence of direct manipulation of the process by the Council officer assigned the task of administering the fund. This in itself may not be a 'hanging offense,' but when combined with the circumstances surrounding the departure of the IT manager, it may well require the attention of the full Council, should the Ombudsman establish that a prima facie case exists regarding the apparent departure from established practice and documentation.

April 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Hi Bill-- please are you able to confirm that any emails sent to :- will be treated with upmost confidence - our jobs are important to us, as is the truth, about this cameo which is currently playing out at Council.?

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterC.I.A

Knock knock - who's there??.... OAG

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTheTruthAlwaysComesOut

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