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Reaction to land sale

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News a large part of the Solway Showgrounds has been sold off by the Masterton A&P Association to insulate itself against falling income and to free money up in an attempt to secure its long-term future has met with a mixed reception.

Soon after the news broke in Tuesday’s Times-Age the comments started to filter in to the newspaper with one of the first being from a self-declared disgruntled member of the A&P who made the claim the land sale was forced on the association “due to the incompetence of a few”.
The member went on to say it was a “sad day” and selling the land was a last straw made necessary because the show in February had lost money for the first time in years along with farm income and other drops.

Looking at the financial statement though makes interesting reading. One of the largest income falls was in the area of grants with a drop of $26,000 in the last financial year when only a meagre $5000 had been gifted to the association.

Others who contacted the newspaper voiced alarm over just what plans developer Steve Pilbrow would have for the 7.4ha he has bought from the association, not favouring a housing development.

Still others put the sale down to “progress” and inevitability.

One or two called for Mr Pilbrow or the association to reveal what price had been paid for the land ownership transfer.

Boiling things down it seems obvious an injection of funds was needed if the association is to realise its aim to grow and improve, even at the cost of quitting land.

It is not as though the association is a corporate body with huge pulling power when it comes to raising money.

It exists in the main for the very same reason it began nearly 130 years ago, to promote an agricultural and pastoral show for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Wairarapa, and visitors, and to allow the farming fraternity to show off their best stock and compete for prizes.

By all means the association should press for greater public use of the showgrounds to make it more viable but must not lose sight of their main reason for existing.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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