Power upgrade at Plains, who pays?

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Tinwald’s historic village cannot grow until it has a decent power supply.
The problem is – who will pay, and who has the money?
The matter came to a head at Ashburton councillors were presented with a staff recommendation that they confirm quotes for $60,000-odd to upgrade the infrastructure on the Tinwald Reserve, and authorise the work to be done – and that the cost be met from the Tinwald Reserve Board reserve balance.
But that sparked an outcry from Alastair Urquhart, the council’s representative on the Tinwald Reserve Board, who said nothing in writing had come to the board.
‘‘I don’t see why the board should pay when we know nothing about it.’’
He said the cost should be met from council’s reserve contributions account.
Council business manager Paul Brake said he was approached by the Ashburton Plains Museum Trust, which said the electrical infrastructure was not sufficient to meet new demand and past its useby date.
There are plans to extend the fire museum and for a new vintage machinery museum at the site.
A report to council said electrical reticulation was insufficient to meet the increased load expected from the development.
The intention was to install a transformer on each property with new mains.
EA Networks and Greg Donaldson had priced the work on cost recovery basis only, with the total bill coming to $60,900.
Cr Darryl Nelson said the prices were as low as possible.
The Ashburton Plains Museum Trust oversees the area on behalf of the Tinwald Reserve Board and is preparing licences to occupy for all organisations using the area.
The licences are not yet in place.
When they are, the licences will provide income to the trust to pay maintenance renewals and the Tinwald Reserve Board for the area it manages.
The trust, now, has no money.
The Tinwald Reserve Board had a balance of $245,000 as at June 30, but is facing big capital expenditure in putting up a lodge (and other works) and has a budget of $1m of loan funding approved.
Under its constitution, the reserve board is charged with the management of the whole reserve and is responsible for all infrastructure.
As a subcommittee of council, the reserve board is also, the report said, responsible for overseeing the development of the total area.
Cr Neil Brown said that, as it stood, there would be no expansion on the site.
Cr Peter Reveley said he had concerns, and the council should not be telling the reserve board what to do.
Cr Don McLeod said clarity of who was responsible for what was needed.
Mr Brake said all parties – the council, the plains trust, the reserve board – agreed the work had to be done.
Cr Stuart Wilson said he was concerned a precedent might be set.
He proposed an amendment – lost – that council put in $50,000.
The funding application will ‘‘lie on the table’’ until the next meeting of council’s finance committee.
Council also passed a motion of Cr Don McLeod that the Tinwald Reserve Board and the Ashburton Plains Museum Trust meet staff to clarify lines of delegation on further funding applications to council.