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Wellington Chamber Of Commerce Responds To Wellington City Council’s Decision On Reading Cinema Proposal

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024 06:14 AM
The Wellington Chamber of Commerce, representing local businesses and economic interests, welcomes the announcement that the Reading deal has ended.
We have opposed the proposed deal between Wellington City Council and the multimillionaire, international owners of Reading Cinemas who refused to front up to the city that was bankrolling their development.
The proposed arrangement, involving a $32 million investment, lacked a sound economic rationale. Allocating such a substantial amount of public funds without clear benefits for the local economy is concerning. Doing it behind closed doors under a veil of secrecy s undemocratic. Wellington ratepayers should not be treated as a financial institution for international millionaires and this went on too long.
Simon Arcus, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central, said
"This deal exposed so many fault lines in the Council, from obsessive secrecy to Councillor intervention and indecision. Basic due diligence is done before a deal is proposed to Council and I think accountability is much broader than is suggested.
We remain left with the question of what to do with the Reading Cinema complex and the urgent need to improve the amenity of Courtenay Place.
We are still shocked by the insulting treatment of generous philanthropist Sir Mark Dunajtschik, who offered to fund this deal without the impact on the Wellington taxpayer."
The reputation of the Wellington City Council has been impacted by the Reading mess.
Simon Arcus said "This is a Council that holds its virtues high, and accountability and transparency are important in public life. There should be a review on this to understand the root causes of the whole issue, and ratepayers deserve to know how much Council time was spent on the Reading proposal."
The Reading cinema site holds immense potential for redevelopment, and we encourage Reading to explore innovative solutions that benefit both the community and investors.

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