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Nixon Welcomes People Power

Tina Nixon says Masterton District Council’s forthcoming consultation on its big issues offers a chance for people power.

The Masterton public will get a chance to comment on its annual plan later this month.

The big-ticket items will be the future of the town’s civic centre and the resource consent to feed Henley Lake from the Ruamahanga River catchment.

Both the town hall and the lake were given stays of execution in an extraordinary meeting last week.

Nixon, whose mayoral campaign attracted national attention last year, voted against the amendments raised by colleagues in both matters last week.

But she said it was important for residents to have their say.

“It’s power to the people right now because they really have seen how we have concentrated our thinking and democracy has ruled.

“And now it’s time for people to see those proposals, pick them apart and see what the impact is on rates and make their decision.”

Two options over the future of the civic centre will be put to the public.

Councillor Frazer Mailman put the amendment forward to review options for the civic centre and proposed only demolishing the town hall’s auditorium.

After the decision, he said he thought a decision to demolish the whole building was “premature”.

But Nixon said she learned while working at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority that the preferred option to retain part of the centre could be complex, given only part of the centre would be demolished.

“Even if you’re just demolishing the town hall, you have to think “what is the impact on the buildings around it?” as you take it down.

“If you’re taking a slow, deliberate demolition, it’s going to cost an awful amount of money.”

She said the Henley debate was the same as the town hall conversation.

MDC will propose an option to keep taking water from the nearby river to feed the man-made lake. The amendment was raised by Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont.

A $600,000 budget has been allocated for the application for a resource consent to Greater Wellington Regional Council.

An alternative, cheaper proposal for ratepayers to consider involves investigating other water sources.

“I think our chances are really, really low, because we’re moving to do more around the protection of rivers, not less.”

Nixon was keen to ensure that all residents felt included in the consultation.

She said it was for all locals, not just ratepayers added to the debate.

“It affects people who are occupying houses and commercial buildings, who lease buildings.

“They have a stake in this as well and we often miss them. And they don’t see sometimes the connection either. “But if rates go up, rents go up. We just need to understand that they need to stand up and have their say as well.”

She said both the civic centre and Henley Lake were issues which could define this council’s legacy.

“I want a town that my grandkids grow up in, and they feel that I made some really cool decisions that were forward-thinking. I want a town that’s fit for them, that’s not mired in the past.”

The council meets next week to confirm its annual plan.

The proposals will be put to the public later this month, which Nixon said was valuable.

“I think it’s the one time where there is power to the people and it signals to us what is really important.

“The Town Hall and Henley Lake definitely are topics of discussion and very dear to the hearts of people in the Masterton district.”

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