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Council Staff Stymieing Alternative Museum Plan

Council Staff Stymieing Alternative Museum Plan

- Te Awamutu Museum Will Be An Election Issue -

January 20, 2000

Waipa Local Democracy has grave doubts over the process Council is using in developing the Recreation Plan according to Te Awamutu Council Candidate, Gavin Cooper.

The organization is questioning the amount of public input in creating the plan following the organization’s official request to work with Council staff over an alternative Museum plan has gone unanswered for nearly two months.

"We believe we can save the district ratepayers about $4.5 million on the construction of the new Te Awamutu Museum but unfortunately we are being denied the opportunity to further develop the plan with staff," Mr Cooper stated.

"Information is also being denied us under the Official Information Act relating to the Recreation Plan and the Te Awamutu Museum. For some reason, we are not allowed to see what is involved with the plan. We have had to call in the Office of the Ombudsman to obtain the requested information."

The Waipa Local Democracy proposal involved the eviction of Council solicitors at the conclusion of their lease contract, and extending the Museum into the old Te Awamutu Council headquarters following the swap over of the museum and libraries existing sites.

"Our proposal is being stymied by staff. I suspect they (the staff) do not want a cheaper alternative to their $5 million plus museum monument. If our proposal does not stand a chance, then the public cannot consult on it during the recreation plan hearings later this year."

"Councillors could then say that we did not alter a suitable alternative and select the more expensive option which will start construction in 2002/03 following the re-election of any existing Council members in support of the monuments."

"We have tried to be positive towards Council for three months but we have been ignored completely. It appears that the only way we can be noticed by Council is to battle them on behalf of the majority of district residents who receive less than $20,000 per annum according to the 1996 census."

"We asked staff for help to develop a proposal to give the public a fair choice, instead we got presented with a brick wall," Mr Cooper concluded. "What other choice do we have but fight."

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