Visitors must pay for Len Lye
From August next year it will cost visitors from outside the New Plymouth district $15 to go to the Len Lye Centre.
On Tuesday the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) discussed a number of options, including only charging visitors to the district $10 or $15, having a universal charge of $10, children under-16 getting in free or retaining the status quo of free entry for everyone.
The debate centred on whether to charge $15 for visitors to New Plymouth, but keep it free for residents and all under-16s, or to not charge at all.
A crowd of more than 40 people, who seemed to mostly be against charges, watched as the councillors made their votes.
At 7.20pm the vote was split and the meeting took a break before returning for mayor Neil Holdom to exercise his casting vote, which was in favour of charging visitors.
Before the meeting there were five deputations on the subject from the public, four of which were against charging for entry.
A lot of the discussion centred on how much money the district would lose if the centre visitor numbers dropped because of the charge.
But Holdom said international visitors to New Plymouth who specifically came to visit the centre spent on average $642 during their stay in the city.
They are not likely to stop coming because it will cost them another $15, he said.
The $15 will be split $5 to the Len Lye Foundation, $5 to offset operational costs and $5 to improve the visitor experience.
Councillors who voted for the charge were Shaun Biesiek, Gordon Brown, Murray Chong, Richard Jordan, John Mcleod, Roy Weaver and Holdom. Those against were Harry Duynhoven, Colin Johnston, Mike Merrick, Alan Melody, Marie Pearce, Richard Handley and Stacey Hitchcock. John Williams was absent.
The charge has long been called for by councillors wanting to rein in the centre’s costs. An entry fee would be a one-off capital cost of about $70,000 to install a ticket machine and an on-going operating cost of up to $50,000 a year.