A last minute wrangle over how many museum options ratepayers will be able to consider in the Long Term Plan consultation process, says Councillor Larry Baldock refusing to approve it and voting against an amended proposal.
Steve Morris introduced the amendment as councillors were about to approve the consultation document moved by Larry.
Steve want three options; adding the combined museum library at Willow Street, a stand-alone museum at Cliff Road, or no museum.
“We need to give the public the option,” says Steve. “When we discussed it in December the question was asked will we also have as an option the combined library/museum. I believe that answer was yes and on that basis I voted for it.”
“Secondly, I don't think we should be excluding that option on the consultation document.”
During the Long Term Plan Amendment discussion of 2016, then council candidate Larry Baldock was very critical of that document, calling for more options in the submission form, says Steve.
“Yet here today he is proposing that we remove options. I do find that position untenable.
“I think that we need to be open and honest with our community, give them all the options. There is no harm in asking the question.
“The amount of effort that's gone into attempting to censor or remove the question from the document is a worry. It does it indicate some sort of pre-determination. So I think we should just put the question in there. There is no harm in it. There is harm in removing it.”
Larry says it was Willow Street as the only option that was not sufficient. The previous council minutes record that Cliff Road should be looked at further. All the reports and consultation documents on which the council made its preference are publicly available.
The combined museum library option was also followed through to its logical conclusion, and the council's preferred option of Cliff Road was made after a year of meetings and considering consultant's reports.
“The resolution says our preferred option if for a stand-alone museum at Cliff Road and we put that into the Long Term Plan. People can comment, but I do not believe it's helpful to the discussion in the community to have that as an option,” says Larry.
“We have given the reason that it is financially not better, it is facility-wise not better. “
The draft concept of a museum on 4th floor of the library is not in the right location for better vistas of the harbour and Mauao.
“I think there are many reasons why we discarded it as an option, and to put it in as an option now is just I think going to muddy the waters. What we need is a clear signal from the people that they want to see a museum built, and that they will support the one that we are recommending.
“If they don't they can have every opportunity to come in here and make their opinion felt and heard.”
The integrated museum is a ‘phantom' says Larry.
Terry Molloy says adding the option creates a heavy bias, and the way the funding is presented is seductive to the average ratepayer.
“They haven't balanced it with the benefits of cliff road, and it hasn't been adequately balanced. We're asking the community to make a decision with half the information.
“That's why will not support this because we have already made that decision as elected representatives of the city with all the information we have to hand and now you are going to go out and ask the community re-litigate that without adequate information.”
Mayor Greg Brownless says there will be and explanation why the combined museum library is not the council's preferred option.
“People are quite capable of reading that and putting the weight they want onto it,” says Greg. “We've also got to consider that should a museum be approved in the first place and should Cliff Road be the preferred site - but for whatever reason it can't take place there, then you are left with nothing.”
“There is nothing wrong with giving people the option to have their say, and I think if we did that openly we would probably have a better reaction to some of the things that we do.
“When people sense that they are being closed out of something, that's when we seem to have problems and that's when people's motivation and indeed support for things disappears.”
The amendment was passed by a majority. The consultation document passed with Larry voting against it.