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by Claire Allison

The Timaru District Council has unanimously voted to instruct TDHL to retain its 47.5% stake in Alpine Energy.

The vote, which followed a full-day public hearing in Timaru on Tuesday, commits the holding company to keeping its shareholding in the local lines company.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey said the public consultation had shown that a majority of people wanted to keep the stake in the company, and the council respected that view.

“There was much robust discussion throughout this consultation period, and I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone that took the time to take part in the process.

“The view from the written submissions, and those who presented today, was that the community did not think we had to sell down our stake in Alpine to reduce debt and reinvest in other assets.”

Mr Odey said most people responding to the consultation seemed to be of the opinion that the council was being run in a fiscally prudent manner, and there was no need for debt reduction of the size proposed at the moment.

Mr Odey said as a district with an ageing population, councillors needed to continue to ask themselves hard questions.

“Councils can no longer rely solely on rate increases and debt to ensure the provision of services, so we will continue to look at ways of increasing our income via other means.”

The consultation attracted 574 submissions, and 42 people elected to present their submissions at the hearing.

For a selection of submission comments on the proposed sell-off, check out page 32 of this week’s Courier.