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Marlborough Library Te Kahu O Waipuna - ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ Booking

Comment From Mark Wheeler, Marlborough District Council Chief Executive:

In assessing a recent booking request made by Let Kids Be Kids, Libraries staff considered the broader impacts of the group’s requests including potential clashes with other events, the booking time at peak hours and any health and safety issues. This is normal practice for all potential bookings. Libraries staff were not initially provided with sufficient information on the meeting planned and concluded that the request could not be reasonably accepted in those circumstances.

Having reviewed the decision and understanding more about the group and the planned meeting, I have decided to approve a booking. Marlborough District Council is committed to protecting and growing an inclusive culture and respecting people’s right to freedom of expression. We are meeting with the group’s representative on Monday to finalise the details.

As a public authority, Marlborough District Council assesses and approves event applications on Council land or in Council facilities. Sometimes these events generate public interest and we often get questions about how we make decisions on such applications.

Granting an event permit or accepting a booking for a meeting room or community venue does not mean the Council endorses the content or supports an event. Likewise, declining a request for a booking does not mean Council opposes an event or disapproves of its content.

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The rights to freedom of expression and assembly are protected by law and our staff work carefully to ensure we stay within the current legislative framework. That means we must maintain a distinction between carrying out a public function (hiring venues or granting permits) and expressing our Council values (striving to ensure people know that we stand for diversity and inclusion). The Courts have been very clear that it is a distinction we must maintain and that we are legally obliged to manage our venues in a non-discriminatory manner, i.e. we do not take a position on the views of the hirer.

Council’s current policy will be reviewed to ensure it provides clarity, fairness and legislative compliance for the benefit of both hirers and Council.

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