Council agrees to financially support A&P Association vision

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At an Extraordinary Meeting of Council on Tuesday 24 November 2020, elected members agreed to loan the Stratford A&P Association $7.18m towards their vision of a multi-use facility in Stratford known as the ‘Stratford Park Project’.

More than 50 people were in attendance to hear the decision which was received with applause around the room.

As part of the loan decision, elected members also discussed conditions on the loan contract, voting to include two conditions as outlined below:

  • If Council needs to obtain a credit rating in the future due to the increase in debt, the A&P Association will need to contribute $25K per annum towards the cost of this.
  • In the first five years of the loan only interest repayments will be required to allow the association to focus on the development of the project.

District Mayor Neil Volzke says approval of this loan enables the project to grow from an idea to something tangible and supports a development that is expected to benefit the whole district and wider region.

“Collectively we’ve pored over the information available to us and gone through multiple meetings to reach this outcome,” he says. “Throughout the process our ratepayers have been front of mind. We’ve been careful to ensure there is no financial burden on our ratepayers.”

“As a Council we have a broader responsibility when considering our support for this project. We looked at the wider community outcomes and wellbeing of those in our district, taking into account job creation, social enjoyment and economic development benefits,” says Mayor Volzke.

Details of the loan contract will be finalised between the two parties in the coming weeks and the Stratford A&P Association will then be able to move forward with the land purchase and the wider project.

Background

The A&P Association reached out to Council for support towards a multi-use facility development known as the ‘Stratford Park Project’ earlier in the year. The A&P Association needs financial assistance to purchase land to progress the project, and is seeking Council’s support to enable this.

In early September 2020 Council agreed to share the proposal with community members seeking feedback on the different options available for Council to consider.

These options, including risks and benefits of each, ranged from doing nothing through to purchasing the required land outright and gifting it to the A&P Association. Council’s proposed option was highlighted as accessing a loan at a significantly lower interest rate than what the A&P Association could achieve on its own and on-lend this to the A&P Association.

This loan would be serviced by the A&P Association and would not require any cash input from the Stratford District ratepayers. To minimise any financial risk, the loan of up to $7,180,000 would be secured against the land being purchased, and the land currently owned outright by the A&P Association.

A community meeting was held at the War Memorial Centre on Thursday 22 October 2020 at 7.00pm where the A&P Association presented their vision for the proposal.

Feedback on the proposed option closed on 5 November 2020 with Council receiving 559 responses from across the district, region and wider New Zealand. The majority of feedback received (85% of the online responses) were in support of the proposed option 4 to lend the money. A hearing was held on 17 November 2020 for people to speak to Council on their feedback with 25 people taking up this opportunity.

Following the hearing the Policy and Services Committee deliberated and recommended to Council that the loan be approved. An extraordinary meeting of Council was held on 24 November 2020 and the recommendation was adopted.