Coun­cil ousts leader from hall project

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TOHILL

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.

MARY-JO TOHILL/STUFF

Flo­ral art en­thu­si­ast Al­li­son Demp­ster, of Stir­ling, whip­ping a sapling into shape to make a wil­low ball.

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