Wellington Scoop

First Rex, now Kerry – why the Town Hall should be re-opened

Rex Nicholls was right when he said last month that the Town Hall should be reopened. And now his wife Kerry Prendergast has repeated the message, even more forcefully.

The DomPost reports that the former mayor spoke to city councillors yesterday in her role as chair of the Festival of the Arts:

The closure of the Town Hall had been a massive loss to the biannual Festival of the Arts. She questioned why it was remaining shut when the St James Theatre and the Opera House – which are also earthquake prone to the same level – are able to stay open.
“The loss as a venue has been absolutely devastating for us. There are things that go in the Town Hall that you can’t easily put in the Michael Fowler Centre … it’s a real shame the organ was taken out of the Town Hall, because it could be being used.”

Rex Nicholls delivered a similar message in a letter to the editor. Kerry Prendergast has now joined him in reminding us that an acceptable timetable for strengthening and reopening the Town Hall has been lost in the murky depths of the city council’s “great ideas.” It seems to have been made dependent on income from a raft of other projects, which are far from definite, including leasing the Municipal Building (if anyone wants it) and erecting new buildings on Jack Ilott Green and the Michael Fowler Car Park (two highly unpopular ideas).

But such dependence is not acceptable for one of the city’s most iconic buildings. (“Iconic” is grossly over-used these days, but it’s absolutely correct in relation to the Town Hall.)The former mayor and her husband are right to challenge its prolonged closure.

The council needs to set a realistic timetable for reopening the Town Hall. If strengthening isn’t to be started promptly, it should be reopened till the work is ready to begin.