Council needs long-term view

By Sacha Harwood

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Hamilton City Council is looking at the potential sale of Knox Street carpark, Riverlea Theatre, and the BNZ building (pictured).
Hamilton City Council is looking at the potential sale of Knox Street carpark, Riverlea Theatre, and the BNZ building (pictured).

Hamilton City Council is looking at the potential sale of Knox Street carpark, Riverlea Theatre, and the BNZ building.

Councillor Dave Macpherson said he is not against the sale of commercial assets, such as the BNZ building, but strategic assets such as carparks should be kept in the council's ownership in order to control the development of the city in the future.

"The Knox Street carpark is not a public service, that is a commercial investment by council. The reason council got into that is because we wanted to provide parking in the CBD, off street so it wasn't gummed up with cars. Iit hasn't been 100 per cent successful, but it has been moderately successful."

Cr Macpherson said it has not paid off the finances as fast as they would have liked, but it has been the same with the underground carpark accessed off Anglesea St.

"We've bought and sold that two times now, and lost money each time. We're selling it again, and we're losing money again.

"The worry is you do that with Knox Street. When we started the carpark we were able to offer a fairly cheap all-day rate, which drove the rates down in the city centre for commuters coming in for the whole day.

"You lose control if you sell it."

Knox Street carpark, along with several other assets, was earmarked for possible sale in December last year.

Cr Macpherson said council need to take a long-term view, rather than "will it balance our books this term".

Councillor Garry Mallett said however, if it is to the economic benefit of the city, they should be sold and council should not be property developers.

"I think the best council is the council that does least, and does the things it should be doing properly. I don't think the council should be a property developer. A lot of our developments have been disasters.

"My general theory is the council should be a great provider of core infrastructure, and then get the heck out of it. The council, because it is using other people's money, never ever responds quickly enough to poor performance, consequently council invests other people's money and continually bails out failures.

"There have been some strategic reason why that one has been developed. My understand is the Knox Street one was because the V8s was going to be such a boomer that you would not be able to get a park, you would need that parking."

- Hamilton News

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