Airport transfer debate divides council

Council approves new timetable on transfer to GHL.

Council approves new timetable on transfer to GHL.

GISBORNE Airport and the District Council’s commercial housing are part of a list of assets that are being considered for transfer to Gisborne Holdings and will require a full consultation process.

The council was divided over a recommendation to approve a revised timetable for the transfer of these assets and a division was called before the recommendation was eventually approved.

The new timetable will see a consultation document prepared followed by four weeks of meetings and hearings in January next year.

Chief executive Judy Campbell said this process had to be followed because they were strategic assets.

The other assets being considered for transfer, the holiday park, vehicle testing station and forestry, were not strategic and the council could decide these in the same way it did roads.

It was planned to release a consultation document and seek stakeholder opinions on the non-strategic assets in May this year. A full hearings process on the strategic assets would be held over four weeks in January 2017.

It was not clear that there was full support for the transfers from all councillors or the public.

“The Mayor has been very clear with me. He does not want any corners cut, he wants to do due diligence,” she said.

Any decision must be able to stand up to a judicial review or a challenge to the process.

Roger Haisman said the whole thrust of this thing was that the council would transfer its commercial operations to GHL.

“Now I am hearing we are not too sure if we want to transfer this or that.”

The public had known about it for a year and he was disappointed that the council seemed to be putting up road blocks.

Amber Dunn said the council had to be sure that the transfer proposal received adequate attention and that it met all the statutory requirements.

To her that meant the council should be supporting an alternative option, which was to delay the full transfer of all commercial operations until after the triennial elections in October.

“I do not buy the logic, nor do I find it fiscally responsible, to assume that shifting assets to another entity will automatically improve financial performance and result in increased dividend payments,” she said.

More ratepayer debt

If making a profit was easy a whole lot of companies would be swooping in to buy these assets. This proposal would create more ratepayer debt.

Mrs Campbell said this option they were considering did not mean the transfer of the assets was approved — it was just beginning the consultation process.

Andy Cranston said he was told it was another division of the council the assets were being transferred to. If that was the case, surely it should be a lot simpler than a sale to another entity.

Rehette Stoltz told the meeting that she had just received a text from a person in the newly-formed Tairawhiti Residents Association asking if they were transferring the testing station and holiday park without consultation.

“What is of big concern to me is that there is misinformation out there — that people think if it was not a significant asset we will just not consult and do whatever we want to do, and that is just not true.

“I just want to get it out there that we do plan to consult on everything.”

Graeme Thomson was concerned that if the council went into consultation and people said they did not want this, where would it it leave GHL, which had already started this process with the transfer of the building?

Would this be real consultation or was the council going to listen and then do it anyway?

Mrs Campbell said it was not the staff opinion that the funding of the new building depended on other assets being transferred.

“It would certainly make things difficult from how we currently envisage it, but not impossible,” she said.

“We are consulting on the options in an open and honest manner.”

Craig Bauld said consultation was not a popularity contest. It had nothing to do with columns in the newspaper or letters to the editor. It had to do with the quality of the argument.



GISBORNE Airport and the District Council’s commercial housing are part of a list of assets that are being considered for transfer to Gisborne Holdings and will require a full consultation process.

The council was divided over a recommendation to approve a revised timetable for the transfer of these assets and a division was called before the recommendation was eventually approved.

The new timetable will see a consultation document prepared followed by four weeks of meetings and hearings in January next year.

Chief executive Judy Campbell said this process had to be followed because they were strategic assets.

The other assets being considered for transfer, the holiday park, vehicle testing station and forestry, were not strategic and the council could decide these in the same way it did roads.

It was planned to release a consultation document and seek stakeholder opinions on the non-strategic assets in May this year. A full hearings process on the strategic assets would be held over four weeks in January 2017.

It was not clear that there was full support for the transfers from all councillors or the public.

“The Mayor has been very clear with me. He does not want any corners cut, he wants to do due diligence,” she said.

Any decision must be able to stand up to a judicial review or a challenge to the process.

Roger Haisman said the whole thrust of this thing was that the council would transfer its commercial operations to GHL.

“Now I am hearing we are not too sure if we want to transfer this or that.”

The public had known about it for a year and he was disappointed that the council seemed to be putting up road blocks.

Amber Dunn said the council had to be sure that the transfer proposal received adequate attention and that it met all the statutory requirements.

To her that meant the council should be supporting an alternative option, which was to delay the full transfer of all commercial operations until after the triennial elections in October.

“I do not buy the logic, nor do I find it fiscally responsible, to assume that shifting assets to another entity will automatically improve financial performance and result in increased dividend payments,” she said.

More ratepayer debt

If making a profit was easy a whole lot of companies would be swooping in to buy these assets. This proposal would create more ratepayer debt.

Mrs Campbell said this option they were considering did not mean the transfer of the assets was approved — it was just beginning the consultation process.

Andy Cranston said he was told it was another division of the council the assets were being transferred to. If that was the case, surely it should be a lot simpler than a sale to another entity.

Rehette Stoltz told the meeting that she had just received a text from a person in the newly-formed Tairawhiti Residents Association asking if they were transferring the testing station and holiday park without consultation.

“What is of big concern to me is that there is misinformation out there — that people think if it was not a significant asset we will just not consult and do whatever we want to do, and that is just not true.

“I just want to get it out there that we do plan to consult on everything.”

Graeme Thomson was concerned that if the council went into consultation and people said they did not want this, where would it it leave GHL, which had already started this process with the transfer of the building?

Would this be real consultation or was the council going to listen and then do it anyway?

Mrs Campbell said it was not the staff opinion that the funding of the new building depended on other assets being transferred.

“It would certainly make things difficult from how we currently envisage it, but not impossible,” she said.

“We are consulting on the options in an open and honest manner.”

Craig Bauld said consultation was not a popularity contest. It had nothing to do with columns in the newspaper or letters to the editor. It had to do with the quality of the argument.



The result of the division on whether to approve the two-stage consultation process for the transfer of assets to Gisborne Holdings Ltd:
For: Craig Bauld, Andy Cranston, Alan Davidson, Mayor Meng Foon, Larry Foster, Roger Haisman, Graeme Thomson and Rehette Stoltz.
Against: Bill Burdett, Amber Dunn and Pat Seymour.
Absent: Brian Wilson, Meredith Akuhata-Brown and Josh Wharehinga.

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