Bay mayors clash over museum storage hiccup

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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The wrangle over a shortage of storage space at Hawke's Bay's new museum has caused an angry clash between the mayors of Napier and Hastings.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton opened his council's city development committee meeting yesterday by saying that his council and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule had known about the storage issue a year ago.

Yule said that was "completely wrong", and he would deny the claim under oath.

The Dominion Post revealed on Tuesday that the new museum in Napier, which opened in September, looked likely to hold only 40 per cent of the $44 million collection of about 100,000 objects owned by the Hawke's Bay Museums Trust. The trust is funded by Napier and Hastings councils.

Earlier this week, Yule said he was shocked to discover the situation and described it as "a big mistake" that meant extra funding would be needed to find more storage space.

Dalton said that "the previous council, and Lawrence Yule I might add, were made aware there were issues around storage last year".

"Importantly, you, my council, will be briefed before information is supplied to the press . . . It's really disappointing that one person made a decision to leak information to the press before the full extent of the problem was known . . .

"I hope that person on reflection recognises the error of their ways," Dalton said.

Yule described Dalton's claims as "completely wrong".

"I was actually informed of this claim yesterday and have checked with my chief executive, who was at the meeting at which this is alleged to have occurred. Both of us refute this claim completely," Mr Yule said.

"If I'd known a year ago that this was the situation, don't you think I would have advised my council and done something about it? Wouldn't we have had budgetary and other provisions under way for extra storage?

"A mistake has been made that has only now come to our attention and we need to focus on a solution."

He said he would happily swear on oath or sign an affidavit that he had not been informed of the situation.

Napier City Council is carrying out a comprehensive review of the museum development, its erroneous visitor numbers and its entry charges.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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