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Paul Hawkes slams Council's library decision

October 8th, 2014

Community Board chairman Paul Hawkes has slammed the Tasman District Council over its decision to postpone the library redevelopment (see our earlier story), saying it will exacerbate the rift between Council and the Motueka community.

At next Tuesday's monthly board meeting Paul will put a recommendation to the board that local people create a working party to make library plans and "do the work that Council should be doing".

The board will decide on Tuesday if such a community-led planning party should be set up and who would be on it. But Council staff have told Paul bluntly that "[Council] staff will not be able to participate in any working party and there will be no access to other Council resources".

In the chairman's report published with the agenda, Paul said that while Motueka community leaders are trying to encourage locals to view Council in a better light, in fact the library decision means "that rift between Motueka residents and Council becomes wider and wider", more like "a canyon".

It is with total disbelief and disappointment that I heard of the Council's decision not to reinstate the Library working party," Paul said in his report.

"This has to be the first step in seeing plans for a new Motueka facility take shape. This decision is being seen, yet again, as stalling tactics by Council. While thanking the four Councillors who supported getting the library project going, "the least said about the naysayers, at this point, the better".

"I have had the question already raised to me from numerous community individuals, would this hurdle have been placed in the design and construction of the Richmond Library?

"Councillors from outside the Motueka Ward need to start listening to the Motueka residents. At last year's Annual Plan Submission hearings, what was the highest, number one submission point? - the construction and/or upgrade of a larger library facility. Short memories, or a case of individuals burying their heads in the sand and not wanting to listen?

"Yet again it is left to locals to push even harder and that rift between Motueka residents and Council becomes wider and wider.

"The Motueka Community Board has been continually trying to see more open opinions formed in Council's favour and help residents see Council as an organisation of credibility, but Council insists in making that rift develop into a canyon and divide the community against Council.

"To this end, the .... board is left with no alternative. To see progress and at least a starting point, it is my recommendation that the Board must drive this from a Community/Board level and do the work that Council should be doing."

Paul will ask that the community board, in association with Vision Motueka, form a joint working party to continue with conceptual plans (first put together early in 2013) and "develop a feasible cost-effective plan for the Motueka Library, to be submitted to full Council for future consideration and facilitate construction".

Paul has left it open for board members to decide who would be on the working party, but suggested it would comprise himself, board member David Ogilvie, Vision Motueka chairman David Armstrong, another Vision Motueka representative, the original concept designer Bell Stephenson Architects, and the Motueka Library manager Janine Gillions.

Councillors Judene Edgar and Peter Canton should also be included as individuals who have shown full support for the library development. "I am open to the addition of any other likely suitable people after discussion at Board level," he said.

An unnamed Council staff commented in the agenda: "Consideration will need to be given to any funding required for the work of the working party, as Council has not allocated any funding and is unlikely to do so.

"Council has been firm in its directions, so staff will not be able to participate in any working party and there will be no access to other Council resources. Board members should discuss the reasoning for the Council's decision with their ward councillors.

Paul replied: "It is proposed that the working party will undertake the work on a voluntary basis."


Comment by Malcolm Garrett:
[Posted 11 October 2014]

I admire the forthright approach taken by our Community Board chairman, Paul Hawkes. The attitude of the TDC councillors in sidelining, or rather shelving, the library and town hub proposal is blatantly disparaging of the wishes of the locals.

I am sure that the majority of our locals will agree that a very parochial [Richmond-based] attitude has been revealed by this vote. As Paul says, if it had been about a Richmond facility, there would have been little dissent. I trust our new CEO does not share such centrist views as evinced by the elected reps?

The final straw comes when a council staff member confirms that no time or money resources can be accessed by any locally formed working party! How's that for showing a modicum of appeasement?

Please feel encouraged to go ahead and do the best that can be managed, in the hope that one day we will be able to witness a new development for our town.

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