By BERNARD ORSMAN
Former Auckland City Mayor Christine Fletcher is boycotting the Britomart opening celebrations.
"How can a council that has actually thrown people out of council homes then go and spend $100,000 on a party?" said Mrs Fletcher.
"I think it is really lamentable that something as significant as Britomart is to Auckland is being turned into yet another Banks stage show."
She was particularly angry at plans by mayor John Banks, a leading Britomart critic, to lead a procession down Queen St in a horse-drawn carriage. Another Britomart critic, deputy mayor David Hay, will also be part of the two-carriage procession of dignitaries.
Mrs Fletcher, who drew flak from Mr Banks for building the "temple at the bottom of Queen St", said she would not attend the opening ceremony on July 25.
"Here is something that is desperately important to Auckland, something that Aucklanders can be proud of and it is turning into a bit of theatre."
The City Vision and Labour leader on the council, Dr Bruce Hucker, has called the horse-drawn parade, where Mr Banks will be dressed in the mayoral robes and chains and flanked by officers from the armed forces, a pretension to royalty.
Mr Banks yesterday said he found it churlish and sad that Mrs Fletcher was boycotting the opening, saying the $100,000 cost of celebrations was about one-fifth of the money she spent on the lone pine on One Tree Hill.
At the 2001 local body elections, Mr Banks said he did not see funding parades as a core function of the council and promised to spend ratepayers' money as if it were his own.
Opening costs have blown out from an initial budget of $20,000. The $100,000 cost to ratepayers includes a site blessing by Ngati Whatua on Friday, events around the first commuter train to Britomart on July 7, a public opening day on July 26 at a cost of $35,000, and $20,000 for a commemorative booklet.
Britomart party bill
* Public opening day, July 26: $35,000
* Commemorative booklet: $20,000
* Site blessing by Ngati Whatua this Friday
* Celebrating the first commuter train to Britomart, July 7
* Total spending: $100,000 (original budget: $20,000)
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