10 Mar 2019

Western Springs speedway: No cash available for extension - council

3:59 pm on 10 March 2019

The Auckland Council arm that ended the Western Springs speedway's lease says it hasn't got the money to keep the sport running at the site.

Western Springs Speedway 2018.

Speedway drivers can't face a season without their sport, an advocate says. Photo: Photosport

Earlier this week, Regional Facilities Auckland announced it wouldn't be extending the speedway's lease past this month.

Perpetual Guardian chief executive Andrew Barnes

Andrew Barnes Photo: Supplied

RFA's chairman Andrew Barnes said he was trying to minimise spending ratepayers' money.

"We can no longer pander to special interest groups that keep coming out and saying 'I want something special just for me'. We haven't got the money," Mr Barnes said.

The RFA loses more than $500,000 running speedway at Western Springs, excluding other expenses, Mr Barnes said.

However, speedway organisers and two Auckland councillors have since asked Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to sort the situation out.

In a letter addressed to Mr Goff on Wednesday, Western Springs Speedway promoter Bill Buckley said the council's handling of the matter was "disgraceful".

One of the councillors, John Watson said Mr Goff should step in and tell Regional Facilities Auckland to take back what it said.

Mr Watson said he had no confidence in Regional Facilities' ability to manage stadiums.

Mr Barnes said the councillors were disingenuous as Western Springs had been under review as a suitable speedway spot for years. He said both had been in their posts for many years and had prevaricated so that the issue had now turned into "a debacle".

"Indeed both councillors voted against the move of speedway to Colin Dale Park which would've provided a long-term future for the sport here in Auckland," Mr Barnes said.

Auckland's deputy mayor, Bill Cashmore, defended the council's relationship with the RFA despite the comments.

The relationship between RFA and the council was okay, Mr Cashmore said.

"I believe we can deliver a good outcome for speedway as long as we all work together collaboratively. I don't think that the stance that Councillors Walker and Watson have taken is at all helpful," Mr Cashmore said.

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

No caption

Photo: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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. Speedway enthusiasts were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their cars and could not face a season without their sport.

Regional Facilities, the council and speedway organisers will meet on Wednesday - three days before the end of the lease.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs