Who dun it?

Stuff reports:

Political skulduggery has again rocked the council chamber in Marlborough as lawyers are called in to investigate a secret recording of a committee meeting leaked to a right-wing blog. 

The leak to Whale could see heads roll at the council, as councillors who attended the meeting are made to front up on Monday.

A recording of a tense behind closed doors discussion about the cash-strapped ASB Theatre was published on the blog site on Friday. …

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the post was a clear attack on mayoral frontrunner Leggett, after a “very successful” attack on Sowman himself. 

A petition and poll about the theatre project appeared on in June, which Sowman believed were intended to discredit him. 

Sowman also came under attack from Whale in July, with the blog running a photograph of him with a superimposed pig’s snout. 

Friday’s leak discredited both the council and the community, he said. 

“There’s been nothing like this in Marlborough politics in my memory.” 

Someone was working to derail Leggett’s mayoralty bid, Sowman said. 

Leggett would not speculate as to who was behind the leak, but said he was disappointed. 

“We have a situation now where councillors can’t wholeheartedly trust their colleagues,” he said. 

On the leaked recording, Leggett was highly critical of the financial management of the theatre.

Whale said Leggett’s public support for the theatre contrasted with his private opinions. 

Not a good idea for Councillors to say one thing in private and another thing in public. Possibly not surprising someone decided to expose the hypocrisy.

Public-excluded meetings were usually held for genuine reasons of commercial sensitivity. 

When the issue is the huge amount of ratepayers money wasted on a project that is political sensitivity not commercial sensitivity.

A recording of a heated committee meeting leaked to Whale saw mayoral candidate John Leggett describing Marlborough’s $23 million theatre project as “a disaster”.

Leggett’s comments were made earlier this year after community and finance committee members realised the trust was in financial difficulty. 

The meeting took place a month after the theatre opened and two months before it was formally announced the theatre trust could not repay their $5m debt.

“If we don’t crank up our convention economy in Marlborough it is screwed, it’s going to be an absolute white elephant,” Leggett said in the secret recording. 

“I’m talking in financial terms, look, I like the theatre too, I like going there and sitting there and seeing everything and doing all those sort of things but you can’t just have that as being one side of the ledger. It’s got to be financially able to nearly support itself.

“I don’t mind us throwing in a bit of money but it’s going to be bloody millions.” 

He told councillors finding ways of “cranking up some income” was essential. 

“A brand spanking new theatre that’s losing money as fast as it is, do the maths, it’s only going to get worse. It’s a disaster,” Leggett said. 

Leggett’s views in the meeting sound very sensible. The problem is he only would say them in private, and publicly say another. Here he is reported as backing an increased grant for the theatre with no mention of it being a disaster.

The voters of Marlborough should vote for Councillors who are fiscally responsible.

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