An un­even play­ing field

Some sports clubs in Auck­land are still charged for ground fees, while oth­ers aren’t. Ju­lian Raethel re­ports.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

WEEK­END sport is at the heart of most com­mu­ni­ties.

But there’s a di­vi­sive is­sue fac­ing sports clubs that’s been slip­ping un­der the radar for four years.

Cen­tral sports grounds in the Auck­land isth­mus are the only ones in the su­percity still pay­ing for the priv­i­lege to use se­nior sports grounds.

Ju­nior teams (17 years and un­der) are ex­empt.

Un­der the old struc­ture, all clubs with grounds un­der Auck­land City Coun­cil’s con­trol were charged for Satur­day se­nior sports and some train­ing ses­sions.

The bone of con­tention comes in the fine print.

When the su­per-city amal­ga­mated in 2010, Orakei Lo­cal Board chair Des­ley Simp­son says the six af­fected lo­cal boards were un­aware their grounds had been sin­gled out for fees.

The wa­ters have been mud­died fur­ther by an ap­par­ent lack of doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Lo­cal and Sports Parks Cen­tral manager Jane Aickin says the mat­ter was dis­cussed in 2011 across a num­ber of meet­ings and work­shops.

‘‘The feed­back from boards was that there was no ap­petite for [or abil­ity to] drop charges given the in­come was part of the lo­cal board bud­get,’’ Aickin says.

But Simp­son says all this is am­bigu­ous and the Parks, Sports and Recre­ation Com­mit­tee is just try­ing to cover its tracks.

‘‘They say that [we agreed to it] but they have no proof of it. . .we didn’t know what rules and reg­u­la­tions other for­mer coun­cils had.’’

Most sports or­gan­i­sa­tions, ex­cept foot­ball, ab­sorb the cost and spread the charge across all the clubs in their com­pe­ti­tion. When Auck­land Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion re­ceives the bill it charges the clubs separately, leav­ing them out of pocket by thou­sands of dol­lars.

Eastern Sub­urbs AFC chair­man Chris Ruf­fell says it’s un­fair for the coun­cil to put them in this po­si­tion. The grounds at Madills Farm cost about $7000 a year.

‘‘Seven thou­sand dol­lars isn’t the end of the world, we’re a big club. But it’s the prin­ci­ple.

‘‘We are al­ready pay­ing the high­est rates in Auck­land. . .it’s ridicu­lous,’’ Ruf­fell says.

Auck­land Rugby League forks out about $23,000 a year for their se­nior com­pe­ti­tions.

All clubs share the cost be­cause ev­ery­one is us­ing each other’s grounds at some point dur­ing the sea­son, ARL com­pe­ti­tions manager Pat Carthy says.

Adrian Dale, club cricket and game devel­op­ment man- ager at Auck­land Cricket, says they don’t divvy up the fees ei­ther.

‘‘We thought it was prob­a­bly go­ing to be one of those things that would get sorted. We’re still wait­ing, I sup­pose,’’ he says.

Orakei, Al­bert-Eden and Waitem­ata lo­cal boards have been lob­by­ing the coun­cil to rem­edy what they call an injustice.

‘‘Sport and recre­ation should be as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble for all Auck­lan­ders, no mat­ter where they live,’’ Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says.

Auck­land Coun­cil says is con­sid­er­ing the mat­ter.


Whether sports clubs pay to use their grounds is a point of con­tention for Auck­land Coun­cil.


Eastern Sub­urbs AFC chair­man Chris Ruf­fell wants to know why his club is charged fees.

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says sport should be ac­ces­si­ble to all Auck­lan­ders.

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