MP: City failed RSA

Andrew Williams.
Andrew Williams.

Former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says a ratepayer-funded rescue package should have been offered to the cash-strapped Takapuna RSA before it was faced with the possibility of closure.

The NZ First MP says the Auckland Council is "not connected" to its communities.

His comments follow revelations that the 78-year-old club is on the brink of liquidation (North Shore Times, March 7).

"If North Shore City Council still existed and we were not part of the super-city, as mayor I would've ensured a rescue package would have been available," he says.

"There is a responsibility on the part of council to look at all options to maintain it."

But North Shore councillor Chris Darby says the club leases the land from council for a nominal fee of $1 a year, with no rates to pay.

He says he hopes the RSA debt can be resolved internally.

About 150 of Takapuna's RSA members met on Sunday to decide the club's future.

President Mike Murphy says no definitive decision was made but one member, who wants to remain anonymous, says most voted in favour of liquidation.

A second vote on trying to keep the club alive was also passed, the member says, and a final decision will be made on April 13.

The New Zealand RSA Wellington head office began court proceedings against Takapuna at Christmas over a $48,000 debt. The debt, which has built up over several years, is over an annual "capitation fee" which RSAs pay to the main body.

Mr Williams, who has been a member of the club since he was mayor, was at the meeting and says council has not done enough to help lower overhead costs.

He says the top level of the building could become public space for youth groups and programmes.

The RSA used to be based on The Strand but relocated to Northcote Rd in 1989 when North Shore City Council wanted to move in, Mr Williams says.

George Wood, who was Shore mayor prior to Mr Williams, says the RSA is a victim of changing times.

People cannot go out and "drink and drive like they used to" which is having a debilitating effect on various organisations that are finding it more difficult to make ends meet, Mr Wood says.

He says he hates to see clubs like the RSA faltering but ratepayers "can't foot the bill".

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Mike Cohen says more information is needed about what the club is facing and members must be willing to back the club if it is to continue.

Mr Williams says he hopes to meet with council, the local board and the RSA either this week or early next week.

North Shore Times