Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

West steps up to plate to help top swimmers

Vanessa Neeson. Photo / Supplied
Vanessa Neeson. Photo / Supplied

West Auckland ratepayers are paying for the nation's top swimmers to use the 25-year-old local pool because the Super City is too slow to pull out its wallet, says Henderson-Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson.

Mrs Neeson said yesterday that the local board, which serves 110,000 residents, had to dip into its discretionary fund when Auckland Swimming needed modern starting blocks for national Olympic qualifying events late last month.

The board paid $28,000 to help upgrade the blocks at the council-owned West Wave Aquatic Centre.

"The money could not be guaranteed from the council and the decision had to be made quickly. However, the council's governing body made very quick decisions on the extra funding for the Rugby World Cup."

Mrs Neeson said the board's response showed why the council should loosen control and give local boards the money and responsibility to make the right decisions about local facilities.

The pool at Henderson was built for the 1990 Commonwealth Games, but was rejected for inclusion as a regional facility and guaranteed funding.

"As it turns out, this pool should be a national facility, now that the QEII Park pool is out of commission for international events due to the Christchurch earthquake.

"The former Waitakere City Council and the ratepayers of the West have been paying for the nation's top swimmers for 25 years."

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said last night that Mrs Neeson made a good point about the board picking up the tab for the country's best facility.

Before the Super City merger, swimming pools were operated by the local council with a budget to make it happen.

"We have work to do on the role of the boards and the amount of funding they get.

"We can't give them more and more roles without the money to pay for the job."

- NZ Herald

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