What the hell is going on in Marlborough?

Brian “Where’s my Theatre?” Rudman would do well to look at the massive cost overrun of the “world-class theatre” in Marlborough. The luvvies got their cherished theatre but, being luvvies, couldn’t fund it so had to stitch up the council to get it to go ahead.

A review of the new theatre’s finances has revealed the theatre trust cannot pay off its loans, as it turns to council once more to keep the project afloat.

The Marlborough District Council is faced with paying off more than $5 million after it guaranteed the loans from the ASB Bank and the Rata Foundation.

The council will decide on Thursday whether it starts loan repayments now or waits three years, incurring interest.

The council carried out an operating cost review after it guaranteed a second ASB Bank loan in March.

Alastair Sowman, Mayor of Marlborough and man responsible for wasting ratepayers money on a theatre.

Alastair Sowman, Mayor of Marlborough and man responsible for wasting ratepayers’ money on a theatre.

The broke theatre trust has mismanaged this project completely.

The theatre’s estimated budget increased from $15.9m in 2012 to $22m last year, and then to $23m this year.

The council has guaranteed two loans from the bank and one loan from the Rata Foundation, totalling $5.1m.

So, let’s get this straight: a provincial area, with a small population and a small ratepayer base, is getting stitched up by its halfwit council and the theatre trust for an extra $5m on top of what they have spent on the theatre. Marlborough has about 45000 people, but has a world-class theatre costing $23m. Or will it actually cost more?

At least some councillors are smart enough to realise someone should be held to account, and that someone is the mayor who has presided over what is a monumental financial disaster.

Sowman said he would not be standing down after calls for his resignation from Jamie Arbuckle and Jessica Bagge.

“We have a world-class asset. We will make it work so it is not a burden on the ratepayers.”

Why on earth does Marlborough need a “world-class theatre”?

I detest politicians who announce grandiose plans for something to be world-class. In fifty years time, when the ratepayers of Marlborough are still paying off this boondoggle, I will guarantee you that there will be plenty more world-class theatres built to surpass this one….and likely funded by other deluded councils run by ratbags.


– Fairfax

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.