Mayor’s move has noses out of joint
THE BIG MOVE
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.
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.