Investment company's formation put on hold

By Lawrence Gullery


The final formation of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment company will be delayed six months to allow more time to confirm the resource consent and economic viability of the Ruataniwha water storage project.

The decision was made at the regional council's meeting on Wednesday, when the investment company's statement of intent was reviewed.

The investment company was run by a transitional board which was to move towards a final entity in January 2014 and its duties would include being responsible for driving the dam project.

The date was pushed out to June next year to accommodate the time needed to apply for a resource consent for the dam project, for the economics of the scheme to be thoroughly investigated and tested, and for final costs to be determined.

Councillor Tim Gilbertson also raised the matter of the letter written by the mayors of Napier and Hastings, which suggested the public was nervous about the $80 million of ratepayer money the regional council had committed to the dam.

Cr Gilbertson said the three regional councillors on the transitional board, Fenton Wilson, Alan Dick and Christine Scott, should resign from it to resolve perceived conflict of interest issues. The council's chief executive, Andrew Newman, who had moved over to chair the transitional board, should also resign, Gilbertson said: "There is a view from other councils that we are making a huge mistake and this will become an election issue ending with the dam falling over.

"The dam's all about getting the economy going but this is putting a big block in the middle of it which we need to deal with."

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said he had spoken to the mayors, Lawrence Yule and Barbara Arnott, about the letter and they agreed there was time to "remedy" the issues they raised.

Regional councillors would meet to discuss the letters and the mayors' views.

Councillor Neil Kirton, after the meeting, said the conflict of interest issue could be resolved by July: "We have asked that the investment company conduct a report which will demonstrate how it is going to handle the conflict of interest issues by July 31 this year and the council is going to do the same exercise."

Cr Kirton said all of the issues, including those around three councillors and chief executive being on the transitional board, should be "put on the table".

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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