Reese seeking public office

AWAITING CHANGE: Mayor Rachel Reese’s office will be enlarged and refurbished.
AWAITING CHANGE: Mayor Rachel Reese’s office will be enlarged and refurbished.

Nelson city's mayoral office and reception area is to get an $185,000 upgrade.

Nelson City Council chief executive Clare Hadley proposed the upgrade because the floor with the mayor's office was inaccessible and looking worse for wear.

People visiting the mayor's office go to customer service on the ground level.

Staff then ring the mayor's receptionist to collect guests and take them through security and up stairs to the mayor's reception area.

The new space will allow the public to go straight to the mayor's reception area.

Mrs Hadley told the council: "When you walk through these stairs and onto floor 2B I am reminded of my mother's saying about the tradesman's entrance.

"I don't know if you can recall your first experience of walking up those stairs as an elected member and opening that door.

"I can certainly recall my first experience coming to meet the selection sub-committee for my interview and thinking where is the reception area here?".

Mrs Hadley said the space reflected a "lack of clarity and a lack of good presentation" for the mayor and council office.

While $70,000 towards the cost is available in the current year's budget, up to $115,000 is to be reallocated from "efficiencies gained in corporate capital projects".

Councillor Eric Davy said he supported the proposal as it was "long overdue".

"In the last term you didn't know where the mayor's office sat and the public have a right to go straight to the mayor's office and speak to the receptionist and make an appointment without anyone else knowing about it," he said.

The office changes will reflect the style of the first floor public area and would allow more light into the offices on the floor.

The refurbishment will include a new reception area where the public can arrange meetings with the mayor.

"There is a strong call from the public that they do want access to the mayor and councillors and that is what that office will be.

There will be free public access through," Ms Reese told the council.

Ms Reese was also working with the arts council to find local art for the office as presently there was none.

The work on the mayoral floor was approved and is expected to be done by April.

The mayor's office itself will be enlarged, refurbished, carpeted, painted, given new lights and furniture with new blinds for the sun glare, and an additional door to the newly designed reception area.

The upgrade prompted councillor Kate Fulton to request a room in the council building be set aside for councillors to take lunch and meet and discuss matters.

She tried to amend the proposal without knowing how much the changes would cost.

She was backed by councillor Pete Rainey who said "councillors were not particularly well looked after".

"This issue has been brought up on many occasions and has been side-stepped I don't think councillor Fulton is talking about much money at all," he said.

Mr Rainey said it was not acceptable "to have to take our cup of tea alongside the members of the public when you may not wish to do that" especially when council meetings were long.

Mrs Hadley said rooms where available to council on the days they met, but setting one aside for the councillors at all time was not a good use of space, which was already under strain.

Ms Fulton's amendment was voted down, but since the meeting Ms Reese and deputy mayor Paul Matheson have arranged for a space to be made available for the councillors.