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The Southland Times - - COMMENT&OPINION -

Mu­seum clo­sure

The un­der­ly­ing rea­son for the clo­sure of the mu­seum: the In­ver­cargill City Coun­cil is in fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties be­cause of its com­mit­ment to fi­nance 50 per cent of the in­ner-city up­grade.

Ac­cord­ing to the an­nual re­port of June 30, 2017, the end of last fi­nan­cial year, In­ver­cargill City Prop­erty Ltd had spent $11,178,000 on in­vest­ment prop­erty, which means the in­ner-city up­grade.

That money was bor­rowed. There are many rea­sons to be­lieve that by June 30 this year that sum will have more than dou­bled.

A ma­jor pro­por­tion of the money will have to be re­cu­per­ated from rates. The coun­cil will say that it will come from the shop own­ers.

Re­gard­less of when, and if, the money comes back at all, it is go­ing to lag by a con­sid­er­able time. My own pre­dic­tion is that it will never come back. Max Sk­er­rett In­ver­cargill In­ver­cargill City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Clare Hadley replied:

Your cor­re­spon­dent’s as­ser­tion that the mu­seum’s clo­sure was caused by the in­ner-city up­grade is, with re­spect, er­ro­neous. The rea­son for the clo­sure of the mu­seum was pub­lic safety and the safety of ICC staff who work in the mu­seum build­ings.

The leg­isla­tive frame­work that ap­plies now is dif­fer­ent to that faced by the SMAG board when it re­ceived the orig­i­nal Opus re­port in 2013. Both Health and Safety and Build­ing Act leg­is­la­tion and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties have changed and tight­ened since then.

The coun­cil is now con­sid­er­ing the most ap­pro­pri­ate op­tions to en­sure staff are safe while un­der­tak­ing mu­seum work. There will be lim­ited staff ac­cess to the build­ing, but this will only be af­ter a health and safety plan has been put in place. Their main place of work will be off-site, which we are work­ing to se­cure. As their em­ployer, the first step is con­sult­ing with the staff.

En­ter­tain­ment

Con­grat­u­la­tions to all in­volved in Fri­day’s ILT South­land En­ter­tain­ment Awards. As a first time au­di­ence mem­ber I was blown away by the pro­fes­sional stan­dard and pas­sion dis­played by all in­volved. The en­tire show was first class. It was a slick and highly en­ter­tain­ing evening, a real show­case of the tal­ent we have in the South.

Spe­cial con­grat­u­la­tions to every­one in­volved. Es­pe­cially Jo Ward and her team and of course Mr Lachie Hayes, South­land en­ter­tainer of the year, who was prob­a­bly born play­ing an in­stru­ment! The fu­ture of mu­sic is safe in the south if this is an in­di­ca­tion of the fu­ture. I will be there next year for sure, and I may I sug­gest that you are too. Jo, can I please book my tick­ets now? Lisa Tou- McNaughton Arts Ad­vo­ca­tor Arts Muri­hiku

Tire­less work

Ian Robert­son (April 16) made men­tion of the ef­forts of Hamish Walker and Mark Pater­son in help­ing re­solve the Ou­vea pre­mix is­sue and was crit­i­cal of the Gore District Coun­cil.

Hamish and Mark were in­deed sup­port­ive but I think it is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge Cherie Chap­man, the 2017 Labour can­di­date for Clutha-South­land, for her tire­less ad­vo­cacy on this is­sue. Cherie or­gan­ised a num­ber of pub­lic meet­ings, raised the aware­ness of this is­sue na­tion­ally and sup­ported the great work of the Mataura Ac­tion Against Dross group.

It is easy to be crit­i­cal of lo­cal gov­ern­ment for their in­ac­tion, but both the Gore District Coun­cil and En­vi­ron­ment South­land needed the fi­nan­cial sup­port and greater de­ci­sion-mak­ing ca­pac­ity of the gov­ern­ment to find a so­lu­tion. Un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and pub­lic health con­cerns had a lower pri­or­ity, this is not the case now. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter David Parker’s sup­port was an es­sen­tial el­e­ment to a res­o­lu­tion and we should ac­knowl­edge the work of the Gore District Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive, Steve Parry, who bro­kered the fi­nal so­lu­tion.

In the end there was a good deal of cross-party good­will to re­solve the dross cri­sis for the peo­ple of Mataura. Toxic waste is some­thing we all need to take some re­spon­si­bil­ity for as it is our com­mu­nity’s his­toric tol­er­ance for dump­ing, bury­ing and hid­ing toxic ma­te­ri­als with­out think­ing of the long-term con­se­quences that is prob­lem­atic. As ratepay­ers and vot­ers we give lo­cal and cen­tral gov­ern­ment the man­date to act on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and I think we all have re­spon­si­bil­ity to make this clear if we think it is im­por­tant from now on. Dave Kennedy In­ver­cargill

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