CBD upgrade sparks consultation row

20:12, Sep 17 2013

Emotions flared as Invercargill city councillors debated inner city upgrade plans and consultation during the last full council meeting before local body elections.

During last night's meeting, outgoing councillor Thelma Buck questioned comments made by Mayor Tim Shadbolt in the mayor's report, where he said he was surprised by the negative response to the CBD upgrade.

The mayoral report said a similar project in 1998, which had jumped from costing $1.8 million to $8m, had passed "without any fuss at all".

Cr Buck said the negative response was caused by a lack of public consultation about the upgrade, especially with "ordinary old ratepayers", who would foot the bill.

Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow disagreed, arguing there had been consultation with several groups in the city.

Cr Lindsay Abbott said the groups consulted equated to about 500 people, or 1 per cent of the city's population.

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Other councillors suggested plans had moved too fast for the public or the consultation process had been misrepresented to ratepayers, which had caused the discontent.

Cr Alan Dennis said there was a lot of misinformation surrounding the upgrade, including around how much the project might cost.

"We don't know what the costs of it are.

"We approved the concept - that's all."

Estimates used by the council to approve the project in principle put the cost of the upgrade at $12.195 million.

Mr Shadbolt said he could not understand the negative response, suggesting it could have been caused by media coverage.

Several residents sitting in the public gallery added their own comments during the debate.

The Southland Times