The latest publication of Proudly Napier is yet another example of fatuous gymnastics from the PR department of the NCC in the continuing campaign to promote the velodrome project.

The propaganda piece makes the ridiculous claim that the new, vastly bigger venue than was originally mooted would still cost $15 million, plus GST.

This is totally at odds with the claims by Geoff Balme, the project manager, who in April stated that the actual cost would "likely be in excess of $20 million", plus GST, or $23 million [minimum] to the ratepayers.

The project manager was appointed in 2015, thus giving the strong impression that this project is a "done deal".


This is despite the council's own 55-page report that clearly stated that this commercial gamble should be regarded as "a high-risk investment".

Despite this sage advice, the council's chief executive and mayor are doubling down on this bet with ratepayers' money.

Not content with the cheaper category 3 velodrome, they are now hell-bent on not only a more expensive category 2 venue but also a vastly bigger footprint.

Based on the project manager's admission of a cost "in excess of $20 million", plus GST, for a smaller category 3 velodrome, this new, larger venue will now cost in excess of $30 million, plus GST. The PR machine then has the effrontery to baldly state that funding for this project will be sought from commercial interests and that the council's contribution [initially $5 million, but I believe closer to $30 million] would be funded from the Parklands residential development - not rates.

The CEO knows the Parklands development is owned 100 per cent by the city's ratepayers.

Although regarded by the council as the "Golden Goose", it has only a few eggs left to lay.

The ratepayers' money should be set aside to reduce the ever-increasing rate rises which are many times the rate of inflation.

The latest increase was in excess of 3 per cent but according to the council's Long Term Plan the increase next year will be almost double at 6 per cent.

This is a near record for any council in New Zealand.

It is not the result of improving our infrastructure but the many unsuccessful commercial gambles that we have had imposed on us by our hapless council over the recent past.

The most egregious example is the MTG, which after five years is struggling to attain 4 per cent of the paid attendance figures we were promised by Bill Dalton when soliciting for funding.

Not forgotten are the dud Deco Bay buses which cost us all nearly $2 million in purchasing from the United States, plus their operating losses before being sold for 5 per cent of their original cost.

Based on this track record, who is prepared to believe any of the conflicting costs coming out from the Napier City Council for this commercial gamble?

Both Wellington and Whanganui have velodrome facilities that run at huge losses for their respective ratepayers.

Meanwhile, Invercargill, which is widely regarded as an example to follow, requires $1 million annually to cover operational costs, with no allowance for depreciation/replacement.

This project will cost our ratepayers many times more if allowed to proceed.

Little wonder that in the run-up to the election our mayor has opted to kick the project into touch until after the votes are in.

But I understand that has not stopped him unsuccessfully promoting this project, complete with updated plans, to corporate entities.

It is my view - and I believe that of the vast majority of ratepayers - that the council should fund a true civic amenity for every family, not just for a few elite cyclists.

Four months ago, this paper reported that the NCC study on swimming pools recommended that the council should be looking to add more swimming space to the Napier Aquatic Centre.

Specifically, it identified a shortfall of three 25m pools.

Two weeks ago we read that the Greendale pool complex in Taradale would close.

This follows other school pools that have been forced to close because of maintenance. With the closing of Greendale, Napier will only have one public pool.

Hastings has four such pools.

That is why Napier school children are regularly bussed over for lessons and competition.

With 80 per cent of children under 10 not able to swim to save themselves it has never been more vital for the council to support a life skill for the benefit of all ratepayers.

But no, their declared preference is a $30 million vanity project and commercial gamble to appease 300 competitive cyclists - most of whom do not live in Napier.

To hell with the tens of thousands of Napier residents, young and old, who are begging for additional swimming facilities.

- John Harrison is a former Napier city councillor.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: