JUST days after returning to carry out repairs on Boscombe surf reef, contractors ASR have come under fire for their “performance” on a New Zealand reef.

The criticism has come from the Mayor of South Taranaki District Council where ASR has been involved in building the Opunake artificial surf reef.

But ASR hit back after Mayor Ross Dunlop described their performance as “woeful and disgraceful”, insisting that his remarks are “defamatory” and not based on facts.

Earlier this week the council conceded it was unlikely to see a cent from the $400,000 dollars it underwrote to the Opunake Artificial Surf Reef Trust and wiped the debt as unrecoverable.

Mr Dunlop said the decision had been based on an unfinished project, which he claimed was not working as promised, and the trust’s inability to make payments towards the loan.

When the project began five years ago, the council poured in $1.1 million dollars to build the reef, involving the pumping of sand into giant geotextile bags and creating a wave-making reef off Opunake Beach.

After delays the council voted to cover a further $400,000 dollars shortfall with South Taranaki ratepayers paying $1.5 million dollars for the unfinished project. According to the Taranki Daily News, any further work could cost $133,000.

Mr Dunlop said ASR had “been able to convince many communities here and around the world of their abilities – their actual performance, however, has been woeful and disgraceful.”

He added: “The council was never a party to the contract, so getting some of our money back was always going to be a difficult proposition.

“I believe it is now time to write this amount off the books.”

As the controversy rages in New Zealand, an ASR team has come back to Bournemouth to repair the £3 million Boscombe reef after it was damaged by a boat propeller.

The council has agreed to pay the company £150,000 for repairs and “refinement works to enhance performance.”

Chris Jensen, ASR’s marketing director, said: “Mayor Dunlop has been kept in the loop for the past few years with respect to the Opunake reef, including the detailed history of the project.

“His statement is both defamatory and unfactual and is very likely designed to turn attention away from the fact that no one, including the mayor and the council, has the funds required to complete the project.

“The council’s stance has been that it would not put any more funds into the project for the past three years.”