Woodville residents riled by party costs

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 14/02/2013

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Plans to celebrate Woodville's street upgrade have left some residents aggrieved at the "inappropriate" spending of ratepayer money.

The estimated $3500 picnic in the park is being run by the Woodville District Vision community committee to celebrate the town's spruce-up.

Woodville residents Ivan Johanson and Ian Bailey wrote to the council last month to voice their displeasure about the spending.

Speaking to the Manawatu Standard yesterday, Mr Johanson, who owns three houses in the town and runs a coffee cart, said the event was narcissistic.

"The street's up, it's looking nice and everyone has the benefit of it . . . but this is just a pat-me-on-the-back party for people.

"I have no objection to reasonably used money for services, but where does this fit into it all?"

He questioned why ratepayers from further afield should have to fork out for a gathering in Woodville they were unlikely to attend.

As the district's vice-president of Grey Power, he said he knew many people who were struggling to make ends meet, and if the council could put money towards celebratory events there should be a drop in rates instead.

"There's a lot people around struggling at the moment, kids going to school hungry, so something like this just doesn't make sense for me."

Woodville District Vision first touted a "town upgrade party" to celebrate the town's new look last year, but chairwoman Robin Winter said the event had been turned into a picnic in the park and would be held in Fountain Square on March 2.

Although the impetus for the event was sparked by the recent work, the celebrations were about fostering community cohesion, she said.

"Now we've got such a good-looking town . . . it's a way for the community to get to know each other at a social, informal event."

The committee received a $2000 grant from the Tararua District Council to help put on the event and the remaining $1500 budget came from its own sources.

"Anyone who doesn't think it's a good idea to spend the money should come along and see what we've spent it on," Ms Winter said.

Councillor Peter Johns said the event was needed after the negative effect the Manawatu Gorge road closure had on the town.

"It's to help regenerate a sense of community in Woodville and get people mixing and mingling together."

The disgruntled community members complaining were a minority and not to be worried about, he said.

"A couple thousand dollars is a very small amount to be spent to achieve that end, and frankly I'm very disappointed at the negative people in the community who have one-dimensional thinking."

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More than $1.5 million was spent revamping the Tararua town's main street.

This included new pavements, matching street furniture, redesigned gardens and landscaping work, improved parking facilities, pedestrian crossings and special red boulders brought in from a farmer's property in the Ruahine Range, among other fix-ups.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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