Officialdom 'gone mad' says club rugby captain

The Upper Clutha Rugby Club captain says the rigmarole associated with getting the Highlanders to Wanaka this year was "bureaucracy gone totally mad".

Ian Brown, a former Southland player, first organised the Highlanders' annual visit to Wanaka for pre-season training three years ago.

He said this simply involved contacting the then chief executive of Lakes Leisure, the council-controlled organisation that runs its recreation facilities, who directed the turf manager to mark out the grounds.

He was therefore stunned to receive an invoice charging the Highlanders $375 for using the Wanaka Recreation Ground next month after he emailed Lakes Leisure on Tuesday to inform it of when the ground needed to be marked out by. Charging the Highlanders had never been mentioned before and Lakes Leisure was failing to appreciate what the visit meant to Wanaka.

"They will . . . be out among the community . . . something that is a highlight for many in the town.

"I feel the team helps bring the whole Otago community together.

"I hope this policy adherence attitude doesn't scare them away," he said in an email to Lakes Leisure.

The organisation's events and venues manager, J D Marrable, said Lakes Leisure would willingly sponsor the Highlanders' visit by waiving the ground hire fee but the rugby club needed to follow the "process" by completing the sponsorship application form.

It was important booking and sponsorship processes were followed to the letter to keep a record of usage of facilities, as this information was presented to the council to justify expenditure on recreation facilities.

"It's not about the Highlanders, it's about the process. The rugby club isn't following the process."

The cost of using council-owned facilities was set by the council but Lakes Leisure sponsored many events considered valuable to the community. 

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The Southland Times