World cup welcome in jeopardy
When visitors start arriving in Auckland for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, there may not be people ready to welcome them on the city streets.
The fate of the City Ambassador programme, which was recently handed over to Heart of the City by the Auckland City Council, will rest with the new Auckland Council.
The city development committee approved a one-off grant to fund part of the programme until the council is dis- solved next October, but after that the new council will decide whether to contribute to funding.
Councillors were surprised to hear about the programme being handed over and at its September meeting the committee asked officers to find ways of contributing funding to the programme.
In a report to the committee, council officers acknowledged a “breakdown in communication with elected officials” over plans to terminate the programme and hand it over to Heart of the City. Officers came back to last Thursday’s meeting with a recommendation to provide $75,000 to cover costs from November 1 this year to October 31 next year.
Councillor Leila Boyle moved an amendment that another $75,000 be provided annually in the annual plan direction setting, subject to a review at the end of the Rugby World Cup.
The idea was supported by councillor Mark Donnelly.
“If we don’t carry it on, we risk killing it.”
He said by including it in the annual plan direction setting, the Auckland Council would have the programme in the budget and could decide whether or not to keep funding it.
He said the programme already had systems and processes in place that would help with planning and volunteers for the world cup and it would make sense to keep them in place, “rather than reinventing the wheel”.
Heart of the City project manager Michele Dodds said the ambas- sador programme cost $200,000 a year to run and the organisation funded half of it.
“It only covers wages and a uniform and a little bit of overhead.”
She said Heart of the City would not want to carry the full cost of the programme and would look for a partner.
Councillor Cathy Casey suggested further funding for the City Ambassador programme could be taken out of the $250,000 world cup budget for civic wine and cheese for hosting guests.
Both councillors Toni Millar and Graeme Mulholland supported the programme continuing.
They talked about the benefits of having tourists greeted and assisted around the city.
“There’s nothing nicer than going to a city and finding someone with a friendly face and a couple of brochures,” said Mr Mulholland.
The committee endorsed the $75,000 grant and resolved that future funding be considered in the annual plan direction setting.