Brides-to-be frus­trated as coun­cil bumps up venue hire price

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JENNY LING

TWO brides-to-be have been left ‘‘frus­trated and stressed’’ af­ter six months try­ing to se­cure wed­ding venues with Auck­land Coun­cil.

Libby Masters and Melissa Hill waited half a year to have their book­ings at Ferndale House and the Mt Al­bert War Me­mo­rial Hall con­firmed.

In­stead they were told the prices had es­ca­lated by hun­dreds of dol­lars.

The Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board stepped in af­ter the Cen­tral Leader started ask­ing ques­tions, apol­o­gised and promised the cou­ples – and any­one else who booked venues be­fore the July 1 changes come into ef­fect – to hon­our the orig­i­nal rates.

Melissa Hill asked about book­ing Mt Al­bert War Me­mo­rial Hall in Jan­uary and was given an ini­tial price of $30.80 an hour at off-peak times and $61.40 at peak times.

The to­tal cost of $1198 would have in­cluded 27 hours for her wed­ding and re­cep­tion in March 2015, plus time to set things up the night be­fore and clean up the day af­ter.

Hill and her fi­ance Oliver Young, both 40, say the venue is per­fect for their big day which will host 200 guests.

But monthly phone calls to the coun­cil for fi­nal con­fir­ma­tion failed to get re­sults.

‘‘They said that I couldn’t be con­firmed un­til the next fi­nan­cial year,’’ Hill says.

Fi­nally, on June 10, she re­ceived an email with new prices – $55.20 for off-peak times and $69.00 at peak times, push­ing the cost up by $644 to $1842.

‘‘An 80 per cent in­crease is just ridicu­lous,’’ she says.

‘‘All I wanted was some sort of con­fir­ma­tion. I just want them to hon­our the pric­ing they quoted.’’

Libby Masters, 30, and her fi­ance Mike Clews, 29, have a sim­i­lar story. They want to marry at Ferndale House in Mt Al­bert in Novem­ber.

The Avon­dale res­i­dents were told the hourly rates would be $30.80 off-peak and $61.40 peak af­ter their in­quiry last De­cem­ber.

That jumped to $47.20 off- peak while the peak rate dropped to $59.

But now the whole weekend is deemed to be a peak time, in­creas­ing their to­tal from $1590 to $2136 – an in­crease of $546.

‘‘It’s re­ally Masters says.

‘‘Mike and I are try­ing to keep within a re­ally tight budget.’’

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board chair­man Peter Haynes says

stress­ful,’’ he re­ceived an email from coun­cil com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Kevin Mar­riott on June 19 say­ing the orig­i­nal fees will ap­ply to any­one who made book­ings be­fore July 1.

‘‘Now it’s been brought to our at­ten­tion we’re deal­ing with this very quickly, in a mat­ter of days. We would not have wanted this to hap­pen as a process. There should not have been a de­lay in the book­ings.’’

A coun­cil spokes­woman says the change was made un­der the new Hire Fee Frame­work for Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­i­ties.

Wed­dings now fall un­der the same cat­e­gory as commercial use and will be charged stan­dard fees, she says.

‘‘Auck­land Coun­cil views wed­dings as pri­vate use as op­posed to ful­fill­ing a wider com­mu­nity ben­e­fit.’’

Hire rate: Libby Masters and Mike Clews first in­quired about book­ing Ferndale House for their vin­tage-style wed­ding last De­cem­ber.

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