Private input welcomed on anchor projects

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2013
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Should the city council have private sector partners for anchor projects?

Yes, ratepayers can't afford to go it alone

We should protect the Town Hall and library from private influence

No, civic assets should not be making a profit for the private sector

Vote Result

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Mayor Bob Parker says the Christchurch City Council is open to partnering with the private sector on some key central-city projects but it wants full control over the restoration of the Town Hall and the construction of the new library.

The funding deal reached late last month between the Crown and the council for the anchor projects left the door open for some public-private partnerships (PPPs), raising the possibility the council might get private investors on board to ease finances.

But while Parker is happy for the council to consider partnering with the private sector on some projects, such as the construction of new parking buildings, he is not keen on the private sector becoming involved in developing facilities that are traditionally the domain of local government.

"Projects like the library and the restoration of the Town Hall . . . are the sort of projects we would want to retain full control of because it is in the best interests of the community," he said.

If opportunities arose for public-private partnerships on other projects, the council would be duty bound to consider them.

"We'll never dismiss an opportunity . . . and it if represents good value for the ratepayers then we would happily look at it," Parker said.

Cr Tim Carter said that, given the financial pressure the council was under, it needed to actively engage with the private sector and explore opportunities for public-private partnerships wherever possible.

"The council needs to change its mindset and consider all finance options [for major projects] including public-private partnerships," Carter said.

Such partnerships had been shown to work and there were many developers in the private sector who would be willing to work with the council if the terms and conditions were right.

"There's lots of expertise out there that we can draw on," Carter said.

The council has entered into public-private partnerships in the past with some success.

A few years ago it partnered with the commercial arm of Ngai Tahu in the $113 million development of its new civic offices in Hereford St. In recent months, it has been exploring public-private partnerships as a means of accelerating the rebuild of its quake-damaged social housing stock.

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- The Press

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