Council ousts leader from hall project
Builder Kevin Barron has been removed as leader of a Balclutha War Memorial Hall project.
Last year, he was appointed to the role by the Clutha District Council to look at ways to revamp the hall and site as part of a proposed community hub.
However, following a publicexcluded meeting on Thursday May 31, the council has informed Barron he will no longer lead the project.
In an email Barron forwarded to Stuff from Clutha district chief executive Steve Hill, the council states that he had been removed ‘‘from leadership of the Memorial Hall Coordinating Group effective immediately’’.
The council has appointed Cr Kenneth Payne as replacement leader. Barron has also been removed as a member of the coordinating group.
The Balclutha-born businessman who lives in Christchurch and has plans to retire to the town is also the South Otago Historical Society chairman.
In October, he came into conflict with the council over the cutting of a war memorial wall to accommodate a door into an exhibition area that he was building as a separate South Otago Museum extension project.
However, this project was not mentioned in the email. The reasons given by the council were about concerns regarding communication, transparency and decision-making processes concerning the hall project.
The council goes on to state: ‘‘In listing these reasons Council highlighted that in their view a non-inclusive approach has contributed to concerns in those areas, that actions had to be more transparent, and decision-making processes needed to be robust and inclusive.’’
Barron said he was ‘‘gutted’’ at being removed from the hall project.
He claimed to have received no warning of the decision, and said he was ‘‘dumbfounded’’ at the reasoning.
He said he found the council’s handling of the matter ‘‘unbelievable’’, because he was not given the opportunity to sit down and discuss the matter.
Barron said he was seeking legal advice to be fully reinstated in the role, and would be prepared to take the matter to court.
‘‘The project is greater than any person, and the war memorial will be there when I’m long gone.’’
The council has been contacted for comment.
Floral art enthusiast Allison Dempster, of Stirling, whipping a sapling into shape to make a willow ball.