Water feature to stay

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By John Keast

Ashburton’s East Street water feature is staying where it is.

There was an uproar on social media and an online petition after the council decided (9-4) on June 27 to shift the feature to an unspecified site in the Ashburton Domain.

Deputy mayor Neil Brown, now a mayoral candidate, then organised a notice of motion to revoke that decision.

The reason stated was that there had been no public consultation or input from the community on the proposal to relocate the structure.

The notice of motion was signed by Cr Brown and councillors Leen Braam (also a mayoral candidate), Russell Ellis, Mark Malcolm and Stuart Wilson.

When the notice of motion was heard at what will be the final full meeting of this council, it was passed unanimously.

Cr Liz McMillan said that when she voted to move it she did so on a “best of both worlds” basis, and wondered if the council had not shot itself in the foot as the final plans for the makeover of the central business district had not been seen.

Chief executive officer Hamish Riach said sketches of the proposal were being shown on-screen in the former i-Site building in East Street, and he had not had any strong reaction to what was planned.

Cr Leen Braam said he voted for it – and also signed the notice of motion to revoke the decision because of the outcry.

Cr Mark Malcolm said he had worked in the concrete business and the feature would fall apart if shifted.

Leaving it where it was was a saving, he said.

Mayor Donna Favel said the council was one which listened, and Cr Lynette Lovett said she supported leaving the feature where it was.

Cr Brown said there had been no consultation.

“We put it out there. We heard people liked it where it is.”

He said there was a lot of history in the water feature, there was no firm costings on shifting it, and it should stay where it is.

Cr Braam said “we didn’t do it the right way”.

Mrs Favel asked Mr Riach what consultation there had been.

He said the council consulted on the CBD proposal, but the water feature was not highlighted.

Cr Russell Ellis said he supported the revocation as “we haven’t taken the people with us” and it seemed like “something we plucked out of the air”.

Cr Ellis said he was not opposed to moving it but saying it had to go to the domain “seems llike something we pulled out of the air”.

Mrs Favel queried how the original report came to council instead of through a committee.

Mr Riach said the CBD working group met, understood the design, and asked staff to prepare a report, which made it to the agenda.

It had wanted certainty for the CBD design team.

“That was the motivation.”

Cr Diane Rawlinson, who heads the CBD working group, said she would like to take a rain-check, and she could “see it sitting outside that (new civic) building”.

She had heard people say “put a dozer through it” and though the online petition had gathered around 1500 signatures, that was from a population of 30,000.

Cr Peter Reveley said it had been there 25 years and council should consult if it wanted it moved.

Mr Riach said the motion revoked the earlier decision, there was no further motion, so the water feature would stay where it is.