Dunedin stadium opponent beaten

Last updated 00:00 19/10/2007

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Carisbrook anti-redevelopment campaigner Lee Vandervis has lost his Dunedin City Council (DCC) seat after the counting of special votes.

Vandervis believes his Carisbrook chickens have come home to roost.

Preliminary results for the city's Hills Ward put him four votes ahead of Fliss Butcher. However, the final vote tally has seen him fall behind Butcher by the same amount, with 1976 votes to her 1980.

Vandervis told Butcher yesterday: "The delay of a recount is not something I will trouble you with".

His bid for the Dunedin mayoralty also failed. Encumbent Peter Chin was re-elected, gaining 21,412 votes in the final count compared with Vandervis's 6825.

Vandervis told The Press he had no illusions his high-profile campaign on future plans for Carisbrook and pledges to limit council bureaucracy and ensure open decision-making and consultation before major spending were responsible for him losing both bids.

The DCC passed a series of resolutions in June to set a path for the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and approve a $188 million budget for the project, proposed for a new location close to Otago University on the road to Port Chalmers.

"The people of the Hills Ward, like the rest of the city, had plenty of opportunity to know where I was coming from.

" I had the audacity to put forward strong views regarding the stadium.

"I don't blame people for taking the party line.

"I tried to the best of my ability to tell them what was going on, and I'm pleased about that.

"I tried to save the ratepayer that incredible drain on the finances.

" I'm happy I said what the truth was."

He did not believe "any of Dunedin's elected representatives have made any difference at all to any decisions" made by DCC chief executive Jim Harland.

City Hall would be "having an enormous party" now he was leaving, Vandervis said.

In an email to Butcher, he said she might now be the "lone voice against the stupidity of the proposed stadium".

"I still believe in `tell the people – trust the people', but I do not believe that the people of Dunedin have been told most of what they should know."

However, Butcher said she would not be carrying the Carisbrook torch for Vandervis.

"It never was a hot topic for me," she said..

"I came out ages ago and said I don't think it's a good idea, and that's all there is to it.

"The business case doesn't stack up, (and) I think it's in the wrong place.

"No, I'm sorry that won't work – we've already had big promoters saying, `we don't care what you do in Dunedin, (even) put a big roof over it, we are not going to be bringing X to Dunedin'."

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- The Press

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