Vote against a multi use facility at existing velodrome a lost opportunity

Supporters of the need to cover the existing Whanganui velodrome which would enable the venue to be used as a multi use facility, providing for local, regional and international usage, cannot understand why the council has chosen to walk away from its preferred Long Term Plan option and lose any possibility of gaining external funding to contribute to the project.

The council’s plan was to set aside $9m in it’s Long Term Plan, as it’s share of the total development cost and seek the remainder through external funding.

Council voting was divided on the subject when it came to decision making time, with six for and six against taking the next step to undertake the due diligence needed to decide on the development scope and to prepare the final business plan needed to attract financial partners.  One councillor abstained from voting, which meant the decision to go ahead with the work needed was lost.

Leigh Grant who chairs the Trust set up to help progress the long overdue covering of the council owned facility, says the decision ignores the council’s own preferred option, the community and external support, support expressed in submissions to council, and the evidence of the wider community benefit which would come from a multi use facility.

“ It effectively stops the project in its tracks, as council needed to demonstrate its commitment, before the external funding options for the project were able to be fully explored.

It destroys any ability to approach funders, to seek sponsorship, to gain the commitment from other sports, and most importantly denies our community the benefits outlined in submissions.

It ignores the weight of submissions from our community which was strong and supportive for the existing asset to be protected for a new generation of users, and enhanced for multi use across a large number of activities.

Right now we are saddened on behalf of all those who have provided their considerable time and energy, and financial support, to assist the council to find a solution to protect a venue which remains the envy of many other regions. “

Cycling New Zealand told the council when submitting on the proposed project that an all weather covered venue would be supported by them as a Regional Performance Hub for the lower North Island. This would attract those involved in the sport back to Whanganui and bring wider economic benefits.

Cambridge’s covered Avantidrome provided evidence of the wide range of community, schools and  competitive usage they are seeing from those in their wider region

Sport New Zealand and Sport Whanganui, rugby and skating , concert promoters, community grant providers, Grey Power, the Ratepayers Association, rehabilitation professionals , and a host of business, architectural, financial and market research professionals all encouraged council to take the next step .

Leigh Grant says,”The facts stand, this project has been put off for so long due to other pressing needs, now was the time to take the next step to secure the future of this important existing community asset.

In the end six councillors listened, and understood what taking the next step meant.

Just one more forward looking councillor was needed to take this next step to avoid destroying an existing multi-million dollar facility and the social and economic opportunity it presents for the future.

We acknowledge that there are other needs in Whanganui and in all regions which need addressing, and that balancing investment for current and future generations is not easy for councils.

But taking a backward step by sacrificing an existing asset is not the solution.”


For further information:

Leigh Grant, Chair, Regional Velodrome Development Trust

Telephone : 027 642 0002