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Where’s the focus on saving the Central Library?

Open Letter from ICW to Wellington City Councillors
Inner City Wellington sincerely hopes that the Special Consultative procedure for our Central Library moves ahead with public support. This open letter is prompted by our concern that, if not appropriately focussed and supported by relevant and robust information, the Proposal to be brought to the Council on 21 July may meet the same vociferous rejection that caused the Council to send staff back to rework their recommendations last time.

The Special Consultation Process, amongst other things, requires the following:

The Preparation and adoption of a Statement of Proposal

Section 83AA of the Local Government Act requires that ‘a summary of the information contained in a statement of proposal must:

1. BE A FAIR REPRESENTATION OF THE MAJOR MATTERS IN THE STATEMENT OF PROPOSAL’.

QUESTIONS:

What brief have Staff been given to focus these ‘major matters’?

What, if any, emphasis has been placed on the public and councillors’ stated desire to retain the existing building?

What, if any, emphasis has been placed on the Heritage Status of the Library?

CONCERNS:

The range of resolutions taken at the last WCC meeting are too numerous and potentially conflicting to provide a clear framework which should surely prioritise costs, benefits and risks of remediation of the existing building, preferably with some independent specialist/expert validation or alternate view.

Other considerations like the inclusion of Capital E, development of Civic Square etc should not be permitted to cloud the primary decision. And as secondary considerations, information about their inclusion should be presented in a form that specifies additional costs and benefits.

Although we challenge the legal necessity claimed by Staff that WCC consider alternative options like a new build, if presented as an option this must include the cost and environmental considerations of demolition of the existing building.

2. BE IN A FORM DETERMINED BY THE LOCAL AUTHORITY’

QUESTIONS :

Will this summary provide the public with all relevant and appropriate impartial information to enable properly informed input in consultation?

If not in the summary, what provision will be made for public access to information they feel they need to provide their input?

CONCERNS:

Selective information presented to support a particular outcome may predetermine a solution which would not meet requirements for authentic public consultation.

ICW asks all Councillors to seriously consider our concerns, which reflect those of many Wellingtonians, to find a way forward to ensure the Council and the community can work together through a democratic process, in what has unnecessarily become a very messy project.

We also hope that this debacle might presage the beginning of a new way of working together, where the public are involved from the outset in developing concepts and options, rather than being thwarted in the final stages of project development where tickbox ‘consultation’ occurs on decisions that have largely been predetermined.

We appreciate much of the significant work that Council does on an ongoing basis on our behalf, but respectfully remind them that in relation to decisions as large and important as a major community facility like our Central Library, both Councillors and Staff need to be mindful that their legislated purpose is to enable democratic local decision making and action and to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of the Wellington City Community in the present and for the future.

Inner City Wellington [1] seeks to serve as a progressive and influential voice of and for the residential community in Te Aro and Wellington Central.