'Don't cares' top vote in Lye survey

187 don't care either way

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012
tdn len stand
ANDY JACKSON
Len Houwers set up an independant survery on the Len Lye Centre,

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Just 375 people have completed an independent survey on the $10 million Len Lye Centre, often touted as New Plymouth's most controversial project.

Of those respondents, 104 are strictly against the centre, 187 don't care either way and 79 identified themselves as supporters. A further five chose not to put themselves in any of the groups.

Set up by rates campaigner and Len Lye "agnostic" Len Houwers, the survey was available online from October.

Approximately 70,000 people live in the New Plymouth district. "What this gives us is a good litmus test of what is likely to be found in a survey," Mr Houwers said.

"From the result you have enough to go back to the community and ask them what they want.

"As it stands, we're simply adding on to an unsustainable cost structure in a district that is not growing to benefit a minority in the community - who actually value it enough to pay to see his work."

After eight years of manoeuvring and planning, tenders for the centre's construction closed last week and the stainless steel-clad building will be a reality within 18 months.

Paid for through sponsorship and grants, the gallery will cost ratepayers nothing to build. However they will have to pick up the annual running costs, which are initially budgeted to be $362,000, or about $10 per ratepayer.

Mr Houwers said the survey showed the New Plymouth District Council would get more support for the centre if it agreed on some form of entry charge, something the council has said would stop people visiting the centre.

Len Lye committee chairman Lance Girling-Butcher said it was too early to decide on an entry fee and the survey did not compel the council to hold a referendum.

"I don't see why we should, but the community has an opportunity to come to the council during the long-term planning process. If there is still a feeling they want to charge, then they can come and tell us," he said.

A new group of councillors would be elected by the time the centre opened and it would be more appropriate for them to decide on the issue.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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