Basin stand Poole's final council deal

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 10:32 20/02/2014
Garry Poole
FAIRFAX NZ
Former Wellington City Council ceo Garry Poole.

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The Wellingtonian

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An agreement about the proposed new Basin Reserve pavilion was signed by Garry Poole on his final day as Wellington City Council chief executive.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on March 28 last year by Mr Poole, John Morrison and Don Neely from the Basin Reserve Trust, and Rod James from NZ Transport Agency.

Mr Morrison was also a city councillor at the time.

Related: Basin Reserve stand a peace offering

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and last year's transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said they were unaware of the agreement until they viewed the NZ Transport Agency's evidence for the Basin Reserve flyover board of inquiry this month.

It states that the parties agree to work together to mitigate the effects of the flyover and to support the pavilion during flyover resource consent hearings.

The week before the document was signed the council agreed to work with the transport agency on mitigation matters.

However, the Basin Reserve pavilion was not mentioned in the recommendations the councillors voted on.

Councillor Iona Pannett said the document was signed before councillors had agreed to support the pavilion building and that it was shocking the mayor was not told.

"It's an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] to commit to a building the council had not yet committed to," she said.

"I'm raising questions about whether someone should have been told and other questions should be asked about whether [Mr Poole] exceeded his authority in signing it.

"It brushes off all the other mitigating factors and seems to say that we won't stop the flyover going through if we get the building.

"I don't think John and Garry had the authority to do that."

Mr Foster said he didn't have a problem with the document, but thought it was unwise for Mr Morrison and Mr Poole to have signed it.

"The first time I was aware of it existing was two weeks ago," he said.

"I would have thought that they would have informed us. Also I don't think it was wise for John to be signing it on the Basin's behalf and Garry signing it on his last day was probably not the smartest.

"But what they signed was not inconsistent with [the] council's policy at the time."

Garry Poole, now the Tauranga City Council chief executive, said the document was about backing up an agreement between the NZ Transport Agency and the Basin Reserve Trust.

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"NZTA had said that if there was a flyover, they agreed to build a stand," he said.

"That was the starting point for talks over a number of months, which led to the MoU."

He said he was well within the duties of his job to sign the document, even on his last day.

"It was the result of months of meetings. It came to a satisfactory conclusion towards the end of my time at Wellington City."

"There was no point in someone going back and starting the work again, so I signed what I thought was a reasonable conclusion to underpin the agreement between NZTA and the Basin.

"It meant NZTA could move forward and offer the flyover as an option to the board of inquiry without a scrap between the Basin Reserve Trust, NZTA and the community."

Mr Poole said he believed he did not need to inform the mayor about the document.

"There was already an agreement between the Basin Reserve and NZTA. During the process, council were aware of this agreement and it had been reported to them on numerous occasions," he said.

Mr Morrison said it was not unwise of him to sign the document.

"I was appointed there by the council and was just filling out my role," he said.

"I didn't do anything unwise. I was there as a trustee.

"The council put me there to act in the best interests of the Basin Reserve."

Mr Morrison said the deal was a good one for the city.

"It's an incredible thing for the city. It's been given a $12 million gift from taxpayers. The stand was the negotiating point. We wouldn't have signed it otherwise. It was a great deal."

- The Wellingtonian

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