Media release from the Chair of ROBB, Christopher Ruthe.
ROBB’s Win for Readers
The outcome of votes for councillors indicates the impact ROBB had on election results. Those sitting councillors who supported the cuts and lost their seats were Mark Benton, (Paraparaumu Ward), Michael Scott (Waikanae Ward), Mike Cardiff (District-wide).
Councillors elected on promises of restoring the cuts were Gwynn Compton, Bernie Randall, Martin Halliday,and Sophie Handford. Robb McCann is understood to want to reinstate the book budget.
Councillor Elliott had a change of mind, having earlier supported the cuts. On the campaign trail she candidly explained her change of position. She said staff advice was there was no room for new books. I had this confirmed in discussions with two other councillors who confirmed this is how they understood the advice.
New Councillors expected to fulfil promises
It is trusted the newly elected councillors will challenge staff advice, unlike the ousted councillors. They must keep that in mind and decide that obsequiously acquiescing with the staff’s one-sided recommendations will not happen on their watch. After all that is what they are paid to do — ask critical questions.
Interestingly in Otaki where very few ROBB flyers were distributed, sitting councillors and Angela Buswell and James Cootes were two of only three book budget cutters re-elected.
41,000 library members were not happy with cuts
ROBB used a strategy that maximized the issue of the appalling cuts made to the library budget. The former council told library members immediate cuts were necessary to help pay for the Waikanae library debacle. That was simply untrue. According to the latest information, KCDC has no intention of repairing the Waikanae library. It will look at “other options” in the next 5 to 10 years
Psychological well-being jeopardized the major issue
ROBB raised a matter that ultimately affects the neurological/mental well-being of a whole community. ROBB’s strongest point was the evidence it produced about the high importance of reading to mental health. (And it’s much cheaper than building new Mental Health facilities). Democracy had a win. Councillors are foolish indeed if they ignore the interests of 41,000 library members.
Spend storage fees on books
The next stage is to get reversed the waste of $32,100 p.a. on storing the Waikanae books. ROBB has already asked why these books have not been incorporated into the Paraparaumu and Otaki Libraries. Simple. If the bureaucrats raise pointless excuses then they can be stored rent free at the old Raumati Pool complex. Lions have 100,000 books, there is room for 100,000 more. ROBB says put that money into new books.
ROBB is looking forward to working constructively with the new Council. It aims to restore the budget, then moving to having a budget that equals the new book per member expended by Wellington City Council.
The Waikanae Watch team supported ROBB during the elections, but we think it is a little presumptuous to say it was the main issue that swayed voters… In Waikanae there was clearly major anti-Michael Scott sentiment already, and think that was true in the case of Mark Benton in Paraparaumu-Raumati also. In the council chamber during the seminars this week, newly elected Bernie Randall of that Ward has signaled his intention to move to reverse the cuts next month. Martin Halliday, now the other councillor of that Ward, is unhappy about the cuts to particular budgets to pay for the Independent Organisation Review and wants them reversed also. —Eds