Mayor’s move has noses out of joint

THE BIG MOVE

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A game of mu­si­cal chairs at the Auck­land Town Hall is ruf­fling some feathers.

Mayor Len Brown and his staff will leave the historic Town Hall to shift into new digs at the for­mer ASB Tower in Al­bert St at the end of the year – but his seat won’t be empty for long.

The Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board is set to move into the may­oral cham­bers, putting some noses out of joint.

Coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer and Orakei Lo­cal Board chair­woman Des­ley Simp­son are fum­ing at the de­ci­sion.

The may­oral of­fice should not be leav­ing the Town Hall, Brewer says.

‘‘It’s a very spe­cial place and the likes of in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors love its grav­i­tas,’’ he says.

‘‘Not to men­tion that ratepay­ers spent a packet on this much-loved her­itage build­ing back in the 1990s and more re­cently nearly $100,000 to meet the needs of Len Brown and all his staff.’’

Simp­son says the may­oral cham­bers in the ‘‘iconic civic build­ing’’ should be used to host meet­ings and other events.

‘‘My is­sue is at the time of the fis­cal belt­tight­en­ing this seems like a waste of ratepayer money,’’ she says.

‘‘There were costs in set­ting it up four years ago, why would we turn around and do it all over again?’’

The shake-up is part of the coun­cil’s wider scheme to re­duce the num­ber of its build­ings in the cen­tral city from seven to three in a bid to cut costs.

It pur­chased the for­mer ASB Tower in 2012 for $104 mil­lion with the in­ten­tion that it will house about 2400 staff in the long term. A coun­cil spokesper­son says the to­tal cost of that move is $46.7m.

‘‘All of which was al­ready planned in the coun­cil’s cur­rent ac­com­mo­da­tion re­newal bud­gets.’’

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says the board is not con­tribut­ing to these costs.

‘‘I un­der­stand and share some of the coun­cil­lors’ con­cerns about the money of re­or­gan­is­ing coun­cil but the lo­cal board’s shift is only go­ing to save money not cost money.’’

The board is cur­rently based at the coun­cil’s Gra­ham St of­fice. The coun­cil’s prop­erty team ap­proached the board about mov­ing to the Town Hall last year and it was con­firmed in Novem­ber, Cham­bers says.

‘‘We didn’t seek it but clearly jumped at the op­por­tu­nity as pre­sented and it solved a prob­lem. I know we’re not the coun­cil­lors or the mayor but the city cen­tre is still in the heart of the Waitem­ata area, it’s bang in the mid­dle of the ward, and we be­lieve that we can do the her­itage of the build­ing proud.’’

A de­ci­sion is yet to be made on what fur­ni­ture, in­clud­ing the mayor’s con­tro­ver­sial ratepayer-funded gym equip­ment, will move to Al­bert St.

A coun­cil spokesper­son says the Town Hall’s coun­cil cham­bers and meet­ing rooms will con­tinue to be used for meet­ings, work­shops and to wel­come vis­i­tors and hold cer­e­monies. No fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made on the fu­ture use of its ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices, they say.

Photo: MICHAEL BRADLEY

Mu­si­cal chairs: The move to shift the Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board to the Auck­land Town Hall’s may­oral cham­bers has put some peo­ple’s noses out of joint.

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