Heat on to de­lay dead­line

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew Lit­tle­wood

Labour Party list MP Jo Lux­ton has asked the Ti­maru Dis­trict Coun­cil to ex­tend its dead­line for sub­mis­sions on a pro­posal by its hold­ings com­pany to sell down shares in Alpine En­ergy.

Lux­ton yes­ter­day sent a let­ter to the coun­cil ask­ing for the dead­line for sub­mis­sions on the pro­posal to be ex­tended from De­cem­ber 10 to Jan­uary 2019.

‘‘I note there has been strong in­ter­est both in the me­dia and across the com­mu­nity with re­gards to the pro­posal.

‘‘Ex­tend­ing the dead­line will en­sure any such forth­com­ing de­ci­sion con­clu­sively re­flects the ap­petite and nat­u­ral in­ter­est that ratepay­ers de­servedly have in coun­cil ac­tiv­i­ties,’’ Lux­ton said.

Flag­ging her own in­ten­tion to sub­mit on the is­sue, Lux­ton said she had writ­ten to re­quest the ex­ten­sion ‘‘after hav­ing sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions with mem­bers of the com­mu­nity’’.

Lux­ton is not alone in call­ing for the dead­line to be ex­tended.

In its sub­mis­sion, Grey Power also called for a longer sub­mis­sion pe­riod.

‘‘We urge the coun­cil to de­lay any fur­ther de­lib­er­a­tion of the pro­posed sale un­til next year and fur­ther urge the coun­cil to aban­don any share sale pro­posal.’’

Out­lin­ing its op­po­si­tion to the pro­posal, Grey Power also ex­pressed con­cern about the lack of in­for­ma­tion.

‘‘It is clear that the coun­cil wants to sell the shares quickly be­cause it has some­thing else in mind to spend the money on – some­thing it has yet to fully re­veal,’’ the sub­mis­sion says.

It also notes Grey Power mem­bers have voiced their op­po­si­tion to the sale on a num­ber of fronts, in­clud­ing the lim­ited time the pub­lic have to con­sider the lengthy con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment, pre­pare and make sub­mis­sions, and be heard, just a few days out from Christ­mas.

Grey Power is not the only or­gan­i­sa­tion to raise con­cerns around the amount of in­for­ma­tion made avail­able to the pub­lic re­gard­ing the pro­posal.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers South Can­ter­bury pres­i­dent Ja­son Grant said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was yet to finalise its sub­mis­sion Grant said the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment seemed to be ‘‘more like a sales pitch’’.

‘‘There was a lot of in­for­ma­tion that ap­peared to be miss­ing. Some of it, par­tic­u­larly in re­gards to what the money [from the sale] will be spent on, is pretty vague,’’ Grant said.

South Can­ter­bury Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Wendy Smith said it would be mak­ing its sub­mis­sion soon.

How­ever, she said there had been the feel­ing among many cham­ber mem­bers that the in­for­ma­tion sur­round­ing the pro­posal had been in­suf­fi­cient.

TI­maru res­i­dent and E tu union or­gan­iser John Gard­ner said he be­lieved the hold­ings com­pany wanted to ram the sale through.

‘‘By do­ing it so close to Christ­mas, they make it nearly im­pos­si­ble for the other share­hold­ers to make a move.

‘‘The Alpine En­ergy shares were given to the dis­trict coun­cil by an act of Par­lia­ment. They be­long to the com­mu­nity, not to the coun­cil.’’

Gard­ner said the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment sug­gested the pro­posal was a fait ac­com­pli, but he was op­ti­mistic that pub­lic op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed sale could stop it go­ing ahead. A spe­cial an­niver­sary has sparked a big cel­e­bra­tion in Ti­maru to­day.

The town will mark 150 years since much of early Ti­maru’s busi­ness area was gut­ted by a fire which started on a stove melt­ing glue in a cab­i­net­maker’s work­shop.

The De­cem­ber 7, 1868, blaze de­stroyed 39 wooden build­ings on, or neigh­bour­ing, Great South­ern Rd, now Stafford St – trans­form­ing the town’s face, with brick struc­tures ris­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture that re­mains to­day.

Stafford St will be closed be­tween Strathal­lan and Ge­orge Sts be­tween 5pm and 8pm for ‘‘Ti­maru on Fire’’, which will com­mem­o­rate the mile­stone.

There will be mu­sic, dis­plays of old and new fire equip­ment, and mar­ket stalls.

Shop win­dows are dis­play­ing in­for­ma­tion on what ser­vices were op­er­at­ing on the site when the ‘‘Great Fire’’ struck.

‘‘From Hal­len­steins right through to Ware­house Sta­tion­ary – ev­ery one of the shops burned in the fire now has a sign on it say­ing what the shop was, and who owned it,’’ Ti­maru CBD Ex­pe­ri­ence Work­ing Group chair­man Stu Jack­son said.

Jack­son said some shops may not have signs on them, as some of the struc­tures had not been built at the time of the fire.

He said the re­sponse to the event had been strong.

‘‘It would be nice to see the town sup­port it. It’s a big part of Ti­maru’s his­tory.’’

Jo Lux­ton

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