A group of Kapiti Coasters, outraged the Mayor and councilors have slashed the library budget, are determined to have it reinstated.
Lobby group ‘ROBB’ has been established to fight the council’s decision.
ROBB — Restore Our Book Budget — held its first meeting on 19 August 2019.
The trigger was KCDC cutting the book purchase budget by almost HALF; down from $402,500 to $211,000. Many of the 41,000 library members have expressed how deeply upset and disempowered they feel.
The Chair of ROBB, Mr Christopher Ruthe said: “There is proven community support. Over 80% of Kapiti residents are members of our libraries. That is 41,000 out of 52,000 people. This is the highest membership [per capita] in the whole of NZ. We are all proud of that. Yet this Council has treated the 41,000 with contempt. We have been robbed.”
A spokesperson for ROBB said: “People are upset because there was no consultation. The $402,500 budget was set in the long term plan after consultation as Council is legally required to do. The slashing was done in secret.”
It is seen as the final straw following the forced closure of Waikanae library due to negligent maintenance. The independent Morrison Low Report into that library was scathing in its criticisms of KCDC. The Kapiti News (21 August 2019) in an exposé “Time to demand answers on Library Building Debacle” summarises the Australian report as stating there were “systemic and organizational flaws” along with “a dysfunctional culture within council”.
ROBB believes innocent library members are being made to pay for the Waikanae library building debacle. ROBB says this is unfair and unjust. And worse, it is the readers that are having to pay.
The Chair comments: “The Mayor and Councillors have previously said they are for the health and well being of the community. Yet they cut resources for a most important council facility that achieves this. All the world’s leading neurologists and neuropsychologists agree as to the importance of reading to mental health.” ”
ROBB was seeking to resolve matters by discussion. However it understands that the cut is irreversible with this current Mayor and Councillors.
Faced with the Mayor and Councillors intransigence the only option of registering opposition to the cuts is by petition and leafletting. It seeks:
- Immediate reversal of the recent funding cut
- Proper funding for new library acquisitions.
- A commitment to increase funding levels at least to the equivalent of Wellington within 6 years.
ROBB is hoping more will join the fight to have adequate libraries and is hoping more will join the fight .
To contact, e-mail : email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
C.B. Ruthe, Chair