College boss blasts water cracker hospitality

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Ashburton College principal Ross Preece has scored Ashburton council “very poor” for the hospitality it extends to international visitors, calling it “insulting and cringe worthy”.

In a scathing letter to council tabled at Tuesday’s International Relations Subcommittee meeting, Mr Preece expressed his “grave concern about the capability of the mayor to host international visitors”.

He said during two recent trips to China the Ashburton delegation, including the mayor, had been treated as honoured guests and the level of hospitality shown had been impressive.

“It is of concern to me that our current mayor is unable to reciprocate similar hospitality, or indeed any hospitality at all.

“I understand that there is some form of mayoral hospitality fund, but current council policy makes this funding inaccessible.”

Mr Preece said that the Chinese ambassador to New Zealand had visited Ashburton at the end of last year and had been hosted by Ashburton council.

“I cringed at the standard of hospitality we were offering a dignitary of this level.

“Our level of hospitality consisted of instant coffee, eight dry water crackers with cheese, two commercially bought peanut brownies and three slices of commercial Christmas cake.”

Mr Preece, speaking to the subcommittee, made it clear that he was not pointing the finger at any employee or the mayor, but at policy.