Western Springs speedway move delayed

Author
Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald,
Section
Other Sport,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 20 November 2018, 8:24PM
A surprise motion called for the relocating of speedway from Western Springs to be deferred until there was a political discussion about the future of Auckland's stadiums. (Photo / File)
A surprise motion called for the relocating of speedway from Western Springs to be deferred until there was a political discussion about the future of Auckland's stadiums. (Photo / File)

Moving speedway from Western Springs has been put on hold while Auckland councillors consider the city's wider stadium strategy.

In a surprise move, the council's "B" team have dealt mayor Phil Goff a blow by deferring his plan to move speedway to Colin Dale Park in Wiri.

Instead of shepherding his plan through the finance and performance committee today, a motion by councillor Cathy Casey to defer it was passed by 11 votes to 10.

The motion called for the relocating of speedway from Western Springs to be deferred until there was a political discussion about the future of Auckland's stadiums, including the future of Eden Park and a new stadium.

It is a big victory for the "B" team of councillors, who regularly oppose Goff's so-called "A" team. A member of the "A" team, Desley Simpson, switched sides and a new Howick councillor also voted for the amendment.

After the cost of moving speedway to Colin Dale Park blew out to $30 million in a report last week, a new plan was unveiled today costing ratepayers $19m.

The latest plan includes $8.9m for wider works at Colin Dale Park where seven other sporting facilities are setting up and a cap of $10m for a speedway track and other works.

Speedway Promotions has agreed to put up $10m towards the new speedway track at Colin Dale Park.

The latest plan prompted a long and often heated debate at the Auckland Town Hall. Divisions within the speedway fraternity were laid bare during public presentations to the finance and performance committee.

"What a debacle," murmured Simpson at one point.

Behind the bad process is bad politics, said councillor Mike Lee, who with Casey was shocked to see a senior council officer, Auckland Investment Office director John Duncan, table a crash helmet signed by 65 teams in support of moving to Colin Dale Park.

Instead of getting contestable advice to make a decision, Lee said, councillors were "getting a petition by crash helmet".

Several councillors, including Lee, John Watson and Daniel Newman, said the real agenda by the council's regional facilities arm is to get speedway out of Western Springs to build a National Cricket Ground, costed at up to $70m.

Councillors heard mixed views from speedway advocates and fans on the planned move from Western Springs to Colin Dale Park.

Long-time speedway fan and businessman Danny Lendich said Colin Dale had absolutely nothing going for it.

"There is nowhere more central and Western Spring is the perfect location. It is world renowned," he said.

Graham Standring, a former speedway driver who has been inducted in the Speedway Hall of Fame, said the time has come for the sport to move to Colin Dale Park.

He said it was no longer safe to race at Western Springs and moving to the South Auckland site would allow for a wider and better track.

Councillors also heard from a public relations consultant, Steve Deane, representing an "active and growing" number of stakeholders who want the decision to move from Western Springs deferred until more information is available.

How they voted:

To defer work for more work on the wider stadium strategy

Desley Simpson
Cathy Casey
Efeso Collins
Chris Fletcher
Mike Lee
Daniel Newman
Greg Sayers
Sharon Stewart
Wayne Walker
John Watson
Paul Young

Against

Phil Goff
Ross Clow
Bill Cashmore
Linda Cooper
Chris Darby
Alf Filipaina
Richard Hills
Terrence Hohneck*
Penny Hulse
David Taipari*
*Maori Statutory Board member

 

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