Ombudsman to probe hall planning

The chief ombudsman has launched an investigation in to the Central Otago District Council and planning for the Cromwell Memorial Hall.

A statement from a spokesman for the Office of the Ombudsman confirmed a complaint was being investigated.

‘‘We can confirm a complaint has been received about the process around planning and consultation for the Cromwell Memorial Hall.

‘‘As the chief ombudsman conducts his investigations in secret, we cannot comment further.’’

Council property and facilities manager Garreth Robinson said six weeks ago Cromwell resident David George advised he had complained to the ombudsman regarding planning for the town’s new hall.

However, the council did not receive official word an investigation had been opened until May 1.

The council maintained the Cromwell Memorial Hall had been ‘‘extensively’’ consulted on through the Cromwell Masterplan, which included ‘‘public meetings, town hall meetings, engagement with sector groups, schools and early childhood centres, council survey, Connect Cromwell survey of the community, options shop in Cromwell Mall open for dropin sessions over a number of weeks, Cromwell Cultural Centre Trust surveys and engagement with a stakeholder engagement group, longterm plan, community boards’ meetings,’’ Mr Robinson said.

‘‘We have very clearly heard from the community ‘get on with it’, and that is exactly what we are doing; further delays will only mean more cost to the ratepayer.’’

The project would proceed as planned, and should the ombudsman’s investigation find any concerns with the project those would be addressed at that time, Mr Robinson said.