LETTER TO COUNCIL

OpeningNight_5November2016_Stadium_05

6th March 2019

Mayor Phil Goff
Auckland City Council
135 Albert Street, Auckland.

Cc: Ross Clow – Auckland City Councillor
Bill Cashmore – Auckland City Deputy Mayor
Stephen Town – Auckland City Chief Executive Officer

Gentlemen,
We are all very familiar with the recent discussions held around the future of Open Wheel Speedway here in Auckland, and for clarity, I want to summarise those discussions. It’s important that I do this as this letter is an open letter which will be read by our competitors, fans, members of the public and the media.

At the last Open Wheel Speedway meeting of the 2018 season, we advised our competitors, car owners and crews that there was an Auckland City Council – Finance Committee Meeting to be held in late May 2018 at which time there was to be a vote to determine the future of Speedway at the Western Springs venue.

We then set about speaking to each Auckland City Councillor prior to this meeting in order to share our view so they were informed. Several days before this proposed meeting a senior Councillor contacted us to ask us to reconsider our position as the moving of Speedway was ‘inevitable’ given several sporting codes had to relocate and Western Springs was destined to cater for Cricket. It was clear to us that the Auckland Council proposed to provide funding along with an alternate site which would result in the protection of Speedway in Auckland for many years to come.

It’s important to note that the crucial thing for us was to have a meeting to seek the unanimous vote of support from our competitors before we committed to anything. This meeting took place on Tuesday the 5th of June 2018.

This entire situation had arisen due to the Auckland Council needing to step in to resolve an impasse between Springs Promotions Limited and Regional Facilities Auckland. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Friday 8th June 2018 between the Auckland Council, SPL and RFA, whereby the intent from Auckland Council was to find Open Wheel Speedway a permanent home in Auckland.

Since the signing of this MOU, the Auckland Council has become divided in its support and seems to have not put the energy and commitment into Speedway which it deserves. This has led to the RFA taking back control as you and your subordinates have folded and not retained control of the city. Yesterday Paul Nisbet (RFA) announced that the race meeting scheduled for the 16th March 2019 will be the last for Speedway at the venue and that will be no extensions of the current Venue Hire Agreement held by SPL. The first that I knew of that announcement was through the media.

Future discussions are to be had around who is going to run Open Wheel Speedway in Auckland which now need to be put to one side, the priority must now be to stop the RFA ending this 90-year old sport.

We are now demanding to remain at Western Springs until a permanent solution can be found.

To date we have played by your rules, based on the fact that the three parties were in agreement as described by the MOU, which I support along with my competitors. To then find you propose to go in a different direction without consultation is disgraceful.

Phil, you need to front up to this and take control of the RFA who have little or no regard for any of the 90-year history this sport and venue provides. But this isn’t just about speedway – it’s about all the sports and activities and venues controlled and affected by RFA and that the ratepayers of Auckland voted for a Mayor and Councillors, but that Auckland City seems to be controlled by RFA, not the other way around.

Members of the public, fans, car owners all read the comment made by Paul Nisbet yesterday and they are angry. We have a very serious situation on our hands now as it appears you have allowed the RFA to throw the sport out of its home with no alternative in place. I am aware that these people are planning both public meetings and protests if this situation isn’t diffused and resolved quickly.

I plan to share this with the media, as our intention is to fight to stay at Western Springs.

Yours sincerely

Bill Buckley CNZM Hon FIPENZ
Director – Springs Promotions Ltd
3 Bowden Road,
Mt Wellington.