Coun­cil ac­cused of build­ing ne­glect

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TESSA JOHNSTONE

Porirua City Coun­cil has been ac­cused of a ‘‘shame­ful’’ ne­glect of the his­toric Ti­tahi Bay Com­mu­nity Hall, but has re­sponded by ques­tion­ing how any restora­tion would be funded.

The hall, used by Porirua Lit­tle Theatre for more than 50 years, was closed in 2012 af­ter ex­ten­sive wa­ter dam­age was dis­cov­ered.

It was due to be de­mol­ished un­til com­mu­nity groups protested.

Es­ti­mates of the cost of restor- ing the hall have var­ied be­tween $ 300,000 and $ 800,000, and sup­port­ers ques­tioned those fig­ures at a draft an­nual plan hear­ing last week.

Porirua Lit­tle Theatre pres­i­dent Sandy Brewer said the ne­glect of the Whitehouse Rd hall was ‘‘shame­ful’’ and called for the coun­cil to re­store it be­cause of its ar­chi­tec­tural sig­nif­i­cance and its place in the arts com­mu­nity.

There is cur­rently no pro­vi­sion for the hall’s restora­tion in the draft plan.

Coun­cil­lor Tim Shep­pard said he was con­cerned any money spent on the hall could jeop­ar­dise the long-dis­cussed pos­si­bil­ity of a ded­i­cated per­form­ing arts cen­tre for Porirua.

Ti­tahi Bay Com­mu­nity Hall work­ing group spokes­woman Wendy Leary said the coun­cil had cre­ated a stale­mate and the com­mu­nity was frus­trated by the lack of trans­parency in the process.

The is­sue is usu­ally dis­cussed by coun­cil­lors in meet­ings from which the pub­lic are ex­cluded, but coun­cil­lors have said there would be pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the hall this month. ‘‘ They’ve been pro­cras­ti­nat­ing with end­less con­sul­ta­tion when the com­mu­nity’s wishes have been very clear since April 2012 and our po­si­tion hasn’t changed,’’ Leary said.

Ti­tahi Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Graeme Eb­bett said the coun­cil had failed in its duty of care for the hall and ques­tioned why fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion was needed.

‘‘[Coun­cil­lors] are not con­sid­er­ing it with an open mind. The coun­cil has prej­u­diced the out­come of this process by say­ing its pre­ferred op­tion is to spend no more money on this,’’ he said.

Lo­cal his­to­rian Bob Cater said the hall had great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and it would be a missed op­por­tu­nity if it was not re­stored.

Coun­cil­lors ques­tioned where money for restora­tion would come from, and whether the sub­mit­ters would be happy for rates to rise to pay for it.

But those speak­ing said the com­mu­nity had al­ready demon­strated a will­ing­ness to raise money to sup­port the project.

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