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Legal challenge threatens today's vote
Thursday November 23, 2006
By David Eames

Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard is promising to fight an eleventh-hour legal bid to stop tonight's Auckland City Council decision on the waterfront stadium.

"All our legal advice indicates we are totally in the clear in terms of procedure," he said last night.

Auckland lawyer Rodney Harrison, QC, yesterday said he was preparing a High Court injunction "seeking to restrain decision-making in relation to the waterfront stadium by Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council".

In a Herald DigiPoll survey, 50 per cent of respondents preferred an upgraded Eden Park to a waterfront stadium.

The survey, of 751 residents in the Auckland Regional Council area, is the first professionally-done public opinion poll on the subject.

It found 35.9 per cent of those surveyed wanted a waterfront stadium.

Five plaintiffs are understood to be involved in the injunction bid. Dr Harrison said only that they were "a group of individuals, concerned citizens and ratepayers".

The action was expected to be heard in the High Court at Auckland at 10am today.

The stadium decision is expected to be top of the agenda at tonight's city council meeting.

The Auckland Regional Council is due to make its decision on the waterfront stadium tomorrow.

Chairman Mike Lee said members of the public would be able to make submissions before the ARC considered the matter.

The injunction could pose problems for Eden Park supporters.

Eden Park development committee chairman Rob Fisher said last night he would not oppose the injunction bid, but he wanted it resolved before consent hearings began on November 30.

The Herald DigiPoll survey shows hefty opposition to a Government proposal allowing local authorities to impose new taxes - such as bed taxes and increased airport departure charges - that would make tourists foot some of the bill for a waterfront venue.

More than 55 per cent rejected the idea, against 37.1 in favour of the scheme. The rest had no opinion.

Eden Park was also the overall favourite when respondents were asked to choose their preferred stadium venue from six sites, including Carlaw Park and Manukau City.

Eden Park was the favoured site for 31.1 per cent of respondents, ahead of North Harbour Stadium in second place on 23.1 per cent.

The Government's waterfront stadium, straddling Marsden and Captain Cook wharves, found favour with 15.4 per cent of respondents, and Carlaw Park had 5.7 per cent support.

The poll was taken between November 13 and 20.

Asked to choose between a waterfront stadium or an upgraded Eden Park, 54.2 per cent of woman and 45.5 per cent of men favoured an Eden Park upgrade.

A waterfront stadium was the preferred choice of 40.8 per cent of men, and 31.6 per cent of women.

The waterfront stadium was most popular choice among North Shore residents - 48.4 per cent favoured it, over 35.5 per cent support for Eden Park.

But North Shore support for Eden Park dropped to 21.1 per cent when North Harbour Stadium was presented as an option.

Just over 57 per cent of North Shore residents preferred the idea of a stadium on their side of the harbour bridge.