5 Oct 2011

Mayor uses casting vote to secure fan zone funding

4:26 am on 5 October 2011

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has used his casting vote to secure council funding for an expansion of the city's Rugby World Cup fan zones.

Six of the remaining eight matches are to be held in Auckland, including the semifinals and the final at Eden Park on 23 October.

The city will open an additional fan zone at Wynyard Quarter on the waterfront and expand one in Mangere to ensure no repeat of the overcrowding which occurred on opening night when 200,000 people descended on central Auckland.

After two-and-a-half hours of heated debate on Monday, councillors were divided evenly over whether to contribute up to $1.5 million to accommodate the fan zones.

Councillors from centre-right bloc Citizens and Ratepayers objected to more money being spent, with some saying the Government should pay the entire amount.

The proposal seemed doomed, but Citizens and Ratepayers councillor Noleen Raffils broke ranks and left-leaning councillor Cathy Casey, who had opposed the spending, left before the vote.

The mayor broke the deadlock, saying Aucklanders were enjoying the tournament and the city's reputation as a host was at stake.

Mr Brown said it was time for the city to look forward and not back at what had happened earlier in planning for Rugby World Cup festivities.

Mr Brown chided some who spoke against spending any more because they felt businesses in their part of the region were missing out.

"I tell you, the city's loving being on the waterfront - and that's all of the city. And wasn't it the one thing we all agreed as councillors when we established the spacial plan that the first priority was to build a really great international city centre and get the waterfront right.

"We are on the way - and our people are telling us that."

The Government is contributing $4 million for the existing expansion of the waterfront fan zone.

The Auckland Council has already spent more than $100 million on Rugby World Cup festivities and infrastructure upgrades.

Earlier, councillor Cameron Brewer said he fears an ever-growing bill of unexpected costs, while another councillor Christine Fletcher said the short notice and procedures used to gain even more funding for the tournament were unsatisfactory.