Buck angered by lack of consultation

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013
Southland Times photo
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
Former Invercargill City councillor Thelma Buck takes a swipe at the current councillors about their lack of consultation with South City business owners.

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Former Invercargill city councillor Thelma Buck has lashed out at current councillors, saying they should not forget the people in South City who voted for them.

Ms Buck told the councillors they had campaigned in south Invercargill and gained votes from the area, but hadn't made the effort to go and see the retailers in South City to listen to their concerns about the proposed upgrade for the area.

The upgrade proposes to rejuvenate the Elles Rd and Martin St shopping area, but will mean a car park will be lost in Martin St.

Ms Buck told the infrastructure and services committee yesterday that it would be detrimental to businesses in the area.

In the concept plan, the car park will be replaced by a pocket park in Martin St.

But Ms Buck said that would attract people to congregate and she implied that "stoners" may gather there.

She presented the council with a petition of 500 signatures against the pocket park idea for Martin St.

Ms Buck said the South Alive community group, charged by the council with consulting with the community, failed to do so with Martin St business owners.

"They wanted to work with" South Alive - they never got an invite to meetings," she said.

"It wasn't until late in the stage that they realised it [the plans] took in Martin St, and by then it was too late."

But her comments clearly annoyed the South Alive representatives.

South Alive chairman Colin Anderson also spoke to the committee members.

He said the Elles Rd part of the upgrade had been well received by the community but the Martin St upgrade should be put on hold and done at a later stage.

However, he disagreed with Ms Buck about the consultation and said South Alive had held extensive consultation with both the community and local businesses, holding separate meetings for each.

"At both those meetings the majority was in favour for a pocket park."

But he said there had been "buyers remorse" and now people were concerned about the lack of parking.

Martin St had already been a victim of the bus route changes, losing car parks to accommodate a bus stop, he said.

However, the council had been looking at buying a commercial property in the street to use as a car park, but that idea was no longer being considered, he said.

"We are keen to have that pocket park in that area but it seems at this stage there are a couple of things we need to go back and look at."

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Mr Anderson said the upgrade was needed for the area, a sentiment echoed by New World representative Bradley Patton.

He said the area would benefit from the rejuvenation and "inspire" businesses and hopefully attract new retailers.

The committee unanimously agreed to proceed with the upgrade for Elles Rd, and to do more research into the situation in Martin St. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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