Heat on to delay deadline
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.’’