14 Mar 2014

Helicopter trust vindicated by mayor

1:11 pm on 14 March 2014

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says it finally has the response it wants after being set to sue the Regional Amenities Funding Board.

When its funding was cut from $1.5 million to $450,000 the trust threatened legal action, saying the board was discriminating in favour of applications from arts groups.

Now mayor Len Brown has said he wants the board gone and has pledged to make up the funding shortfall, so the legal action has been dropped.

Mr Brown says the issue highlighted problems with the way the board works, and it's time to get rid of it. He says he'll ask the Government for the required law change and work to plug the trust's funding gap.

The mayor says avoiding a legal battle has saved the council hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Trust chair Murray Bolton says art organisations dominate the board, and he has been fighting funding cuts for more than five years. He says getting rid of the board is long overdue and he's pleased politicians have recognised the issue.

An amendment to the law is needed for the changes to go ahead.

The Associate Minister of Local Government, Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, says he is open to working with the council. He says it's an important local issue and it's appropriate the council finds a solution.