Council won't buy 'a tanker load of worms'

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2012

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The latest attempt to find a solution for the crumbling Patea Hospital has been unanimously shot down by South Taranaki District councillors.

Originally pushed by the Patea community board out of frustration with the "eyesore", council officers spent the past month investigating the possibility of buying the facility and knocking it down.

In a report to the council on Monday, property and legal executive Yvonne Barton said even if it managed to buy the property at its rateable value, $75,000, it would still need to find up to $1 million to demolish and clear the site. She said restoring the building was "near impossible".

But it wasn't the money that irked councillors the most, it was the untenable precedent such a purchase would create.

Councillor Mike Powell said the district was riddled with similar buildings, and buyers needed to take responsibility, "not the council".

The idea was equal to "a blind leap into a deep hole" if they were to save one owner from a bad investment, he said.

His point was echoed by Kirsty Bourke.

She said because there were numerous buildings in South Taranaki that would not meet the earthquake standards, the council would be inun- dated with similar requests.

"It will be a very dangerous precedent to set," she said.

"It will be opening up a can of worms."

Ian Wards was less charitable.

"I don't think this is opening a can of worms.

"I think it's more like a darn tanker load or drum of worms, at least."

He said he was happy for council to debate the idea but they needed to send a clear message that it wasn't going to happen.

Sold to Whanganui man Basil Anderson in 2002, the 2.2-hectare property has been plagued by vandals and was considered by many to be an eyesore.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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