Council cuts hit 'heart' of community

Manurewa residents could be kept waiting for an early childhood education centre in a deprived area if cuts to the council's project spending go ahead tomorrow.

Riverton Reserve, a development planned for the suburb's Randwick Park, has been in the works since 2011.

The reserve would have a refurbished playground, skate park, community building and early childhood education centre - a development residents say would make the reserve "the heart" of the area.

But plans may be stalled in an effort to keep rates low across the region.

Mayor Len Brown indicated earlier in the month he wanted the council to assess all of the projects the council had committed to paying for.

Though the projects would not be scrapped, Brown asked to consider if any could be delayed.

Since that meeting, a group of councillors has got together to review the projects, which was then passed on to a workshop attended by local boards last week.

Ahead of today's Strategy and Finance Committee meeting, local boards were given the opportunity to comment on the plans for their projects.

Manurewa Local Board chairman Angela Dalton said further delays to Randwick Park would see thousands of people missing out on community facilities.

"It is a growing community of around 6,000 people," she said.

"Despite having a high proportion of children and young people, historically this community has been under-served with regards to community, sports and recreation facilities."

Dalton said the board started working with the community on the project in 2011, which set "high expectations" about it being finished by the end of 2014.

Having already made a concession on the price, the board agreed to reduce the funding package for the project by $400,000 by scrutinising every detail.

"The project has also leveraged funding in excess of $1 million from the Ministry of Education for the development of an Early Childhood Education facility on the new reserve," she said.

"The facility is especially important for Randwick Park as the area has the second lowest rates of participation in early childhood education in the country."

Dalton said this obstacle could see the area held back, especially when it is at the "tipping point" of starting to succeed.

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