Despite many community groups, including the Friends of Alison Park, submitting against this outcome, the Board’s decision was a foregone conclusion. The OBC building was an integral part of the Friends of Alison Park vision to make the park a wonderful gateway to Waiheke. That vision is now in tatters as Walden and his failed Board extend Green power and control over the island.
This Board has developed a model whereby it leases community buildings to its favoured organisations and then hands ratepayers money over to those groups to ‘manage’ the buildings.
It developed this model so that it could give control of the refurbished former library building to Waiheke Adult Literacy. Waiheke Adult Literacy is managed by, Fiona Gregory, partner of Chris Walker who controls Waiheke Radio. Waiheke Radio enjoys a community lease over the White House locking out all other community groups. Waiheke Radio pumps out propaganda for the local Green Party incumbent MP. Local Board member Shirin Brown also has a regular slot on the station.
Once in the hands of its client group, the Board then hands over ratepayers money in the form of management fees and other grants. There is no further transparency or accountability for the money.
And talking of wasting our money, the other big recipient of the Board’s largesse, Waiheke Adult Literacy (WAL), is to receive yet another $50,000 to add to the $30,000 it has already received to ‘manage’ the old library space. Another nice Christmas bonus from the ratepayers’ stocking. The $50,000 will be redirected from money previously allocated for work on the Onetangi Sports Park pavilion, which you may have noticed has ground to a halt through – well, lack of funding. WAL is the ‘gatekeeper’ organisation that controls what was long intended to be space for Arts related groups (eg. Community Art Gallery, Theatre, Cinema and Musical Museum) to extend their activities. Instead WAL is hogging the space for its own use, pays no rent, and returns no money to ratepayers in the form of rent, leases or fees. The $50k is for unspecified ‘improvements’, on top of the $150,000 this space cost ratepayers to set up just over a year ago. The new funding comes with less than a year to go to the next local body elections.
12. In particular, the management plan variation proposes a change to policy 9 which covered the proposal to lease to the former bowling club building. Following the hearing the board has suggested this policy be amended to read:
Policy 9: To lease the former Oneroa Bowling Club building to a community group or groups that will: a) Utilise the building for a range of uses that provide wide community benefit b) Be required to provide access, at a comparable community rate, to other community groups or for social events on a fair and transparent basis.
Once the Board has inserted its client group into the building at the peppercorn rent of $1 a year, expect to see large sums of ratepayers money flowing into the client groups’ coffers just in time for the next local body elections.
Once again this Board has locked the community out of use of facilities that have cost the ratepayer hundreds of thousands. The people of Waiheke need to take note of how this Board would run an independent Waiheke Council. Cronyism, favouritism will be the name of the game, just as it was in the bad old days of the Waiheke County Council.
Watch this space for updates.
Oneroa bowling Club set to become new Green Party HQ
Waiheke's own Hamilton Gardens
People's Park saved for future generations - or maybe not