Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Council pledge on V8 cash

Photo / Christine Cornege
Photo / Christine Cornege

Auckland ratepayers will not pay a cent more than the $10.6 million already agreed to back the return of the V8s Supercars to Pukekohe raceway, the council have pledged.

The move to return the V8s to Auckland in April next year, the first time since 2007, has come under fire from some city leaders after a five-year sojourn in Hamilton landed ratepayers with a $40m bill.

A divided Auckland Council finance and strategy committee agreed on July 4 to spend $10.6m of ratepayers' money over five years on the event, while Government funding means taxpayers will stump up $2.2m.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development [Ateed] chief executive Brett O'Riley said he could "absolutely" assure ratepayers they would not pick up the tab if the event failed.

V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane told the Herald on Sunday last week they would underwrite the event and O'Riley said the final contract had not been signed, but a heads of agreement document had been.

That document, signed by representatives from V8 Supercars, Ateed and Pukekohe Park, was shown to the Herald on Sunday. It says V8 Supercars is responsible for any extra costs, which should be met in a "timely manner".

He had no concerns that V8 Supercars would do so if needed, O'Riley said.

"Absolutely, because part of the due diligence we've done is into the nature of their finances and their backers. The risk profile is different [anyway] because we're not the promoter or underwriter, but even so it's just good prudent commercial management."

The Auditor-General is investigating a complaint by councillor Cathy Casey that Ateed hid a secret report from councillors before the vote, while other councillors condemned the organisation for withholding due diligence and risk assessment reports.

However, O'Riley said two workshops were held with councillors before the proposal went to the finance and strategy committee. The first, on May 31, included "robust discussion", but was not attended by councillor Cameron Brewer, who has been one of the harshest critics.

Commercially sensitive due diligence and risk assessment reports were not taken to the meeting because councillors did not ask for them, he said.

"We've got nothing to hide but we do have to take into account private information that sits in some of these reports."

Ateed set up the advisory group, which any councillor could join, and those members had seen the full reports. They have since backed the event.

In future they would ask councillors during workshops if they wanted to see any other documents, O'Riley said.

- Herald on Sunday

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