Let's go slowly on upgrade says mayor

TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.

The Invercargill city upgrade has hit a road block, with Mayor Tim Shadbolt saying the upgrade has to be done slowly.

The council pushed the upgrade through at its August meeting, but since voting on the redevelopment of the inner-city, nothing has happened.

The decision to go ahead with the upgrade created controversy and Mr Shadbolt said people were still surprised by the council's endorsement of the plans.

"I think they [residents] are still in a state of shock. I think the attitude is just to take things very slowly."

Former inner-city working group committee boss Norman Elder said during the launch of the plans in July last year that work would begin by the end of last year and take two years to complete.

But the new boss of the upgrade, councillor Graham Sycamore, said that timeline was now unrealistic.

"I think it will take longer than that, the plan sort of presents a whole lot of options in each stage. What we have to decide is which stage we are going to do first. There's a lot more planning and talking to happen."

No meetings with the working group had been held since the October local body election, when Mr Elder retired from the council, and it was unlikely one would be held until February, Cr Sycamore said.

He did not ask the mayor for the portfolio, but was looking forward to meeting members of the inner-city upgrade committee.

Cr Sycamore said the council was now taking a cautious approach.

However, the project was definitely not halted and at least one stage would be started before June.

Although he conceded that the aim of the upgrade was to help businesses which were feeling the effects of the recession, it "had to be done right".

That included more public discussion. "It's a pretty massive sort of project."

He said the previous council had voted on it and the new council may want to have further discussions.

"Of course then they [previous councillors] wash their hands of it and walk away."

The Southland Times