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Decision comes as a relief

For someone like myself, who seems to have spent a lifetime on council debating the future of our town hall, the fact we are about to make a decision is a relief more than anything else.

This council now has the opportunity to put the whole debate to rest, one way or the other.

Do we rebuild alongside the facade, do we demolish all the buildings on the current site or is there some other option from left field worth consideration?

Whatever the decision at our next full council meeting on June 5, one thing is for sure. It will attract huge public interest and I think all councillors are aware that whatever we decide we are going to face a pretty heated response from a sector of our residents and ratepayers.

As we discovered through the recent consultation process, there are many who are vehemently opposed to us proceeding with the building of a new town hall and about as many who just as vehemently want to see it happen.

It is important to note though that consultation is not a referendum. Rather, it gives people the chance to have their say without binding the council to base their decision solely on which option was favoured by the most submitters.

As guidelines from the Auditor-General say, it is more about quality than quantity; the actual numbers can make a good headline, but when it comes to the crunch, they should not be a main focus.

I would love a dollar for every person who has told me that that they did not submit because they believed most elected representatives on this council had campaigned strongly on building a new town hall at the last election and now that they were in office they simply expected them to get on with it.

At the same time, however, I absolutely accept that along with the good number of submitters who favoured demolition because of the affordability issue there would be some who did not submit who feel that way as well.

And as with every consultation process there would also be those who did not submit because they [wrongly, I might add] held the view that no matter what they said the council wouldn’t listen anyway.

If there is one thing I can vouch for above everything else about the present crop of elected representatives it is they keep their ears close to the ground. They are constantly seeking the views of their constituents no matter what the issue in front of them.

At the same time, though, councillors are human … despite what some of the keyboard warriors on social media might say.

While we are constantly reminded that the most important part of any consultation process is to keep an open mind, that is difficult, especially for those of us who have been part of a particular debate for a decade or more.

When you have heard every side of the story umpteen times it’s nigh impossible not to have formed an opinion which is going to be hard to shake.

For me, this latest consultation has not been so much about keeping an open mind regarding what has happened before, but looking for new evidence which may prompt a rethink, enough perhaps to persuade me to at least give some thought toward a new path being taken.

It’s no secret that I have long been a strong advocate of rebuilding the town hall and retaining the façade. In fact, I was also in favour of retaining the municipal buildings as well but have latterly been convinced that the risk of doing this because of all the unknowns surrounding it no longer makes it a plausible option.

So, has anything occurred which could change my mind? This column is not the place to answer that question. The time will come when council deliberates publicly on the submissions early next month.

Who knows, those deliberations themselves may be the catalyst to change … or maybe they will simply confirm what I have thought all along.

1 COMMENT

  1. Don’t you mean the CEO and managers 🤔 they run the COUNCIL NOT THE COUNCILORS THEY MAKE THE TEA. The leftist past government has created a COUNCIL THAT’S NOT ANSWERABLE TO RATE PAYERS 😑 🙄 JUST A MONEY GRAVEY TRAIN. VERY DANGEROUS AND SAD 😔 😟.

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Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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