7 Mar 2019

Emotional letter prompts Western Springs Speedway meeting

7:51 pm on 7 March 2019

Auckland Council is to meet with a Western Springs speedway organiser after he wrote an emotional open letter to the mayor.

Western Springs Speedway 2018.

Western Springs Speedway 2018. Photo: Photosport

The lease on Western Springs Park is up for the speedway, and with just a few days to go there is still no new venue decided.

In a letter addressed to Auckland mayor Phil Goff yesterday, Western Springs Speedway promoter Bill Buckley said the council's handling of the matter was "disgraceful" and he needs to sort it out.

Mr Buckley said the speedway was in limbo - the lease finishes on 16 March but the council has not found it a new home.

In his open letter, Mr Buckley said the sport has a 90-year history with the park and Mr Goff has to "front up" and help.

"It's hundreds of thousands of dollars each guy is spending and they take twelve months to build a car," Mr Buckley said.

"We need a decision now - that's what I have been telling them."

The council had been considering Colin Dale Park in Wiri as an alternative but put that plan on hold in November for further investigation.

And nothing will be decided until April at least, when the council's Finance and Performance Committee meets again.

"All my drivers and car owners and supporters of speedway don't want to have a season with no speedway," Mr Buckley said.

Mr Buckley said he was blindsided when the body that manages the park for the council, Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), announced that 16 March would be the speedway's last meet at Western Springs.

But a Regional Facilities spokesman, Paul Nisbet, said the speedway organisers knew this day was coming.

"RFA's view is that we have acted in good faith since 2012," Mr Nisbet said.

"We have done everything we possibly can in working with them."

"The unitary plan does anticipate speedway coming to a close at Western Springs," he said.

"And there is capacity within the provisions of the precinct plan to increase the amount of event activity going into it."

Mr Nisbet said the lease would not be extended for the speedway any longer.

But in the wake of the emotional open letter, Regional Facilities and the Council are prepared to talk with the speedway organisers.

They'll get together on Wednesday - three days before the end of the lease - but what might be in store is a mystery to Mr Buckley.

However, he is clear on one thing.

"We want absolute assurance that we are going to run next season, and it is either going to be at Western Springs or a track that I approve of," he said.

Mr Buckley said there are too many people involved in speedway for the wait to continue any longer - they deserve a fast decision.

The mayor's office has been approached for comment.

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