Hall's future debated

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A long-serving Waikato district councillor has accused the Education Ministry of a lack of professionalism in its dealings over the historic Tamahere Hall.

For about five years the council and the ministry have been involved in discussions and negotiations over land swaps which would allow the Tamahere Model Country School to retain the 86-year-old building and use it as an arts centre, reports the Waikato Times.

In 2006 a new Tamahere Community Centre was opened in Devine Rd to replace the old hall.

That development was made possible by a proposed land swap between the council and ministry.

However Cr Rod Wise was furious to learn through a recent Waikato Times article that there could be no buildings on land purchased by the Crown unless they were upgraded to the ministry’s requirements.

In this case it would cost the Waikato council more than $120,000 to bring the old hall up to scratch.

To complete the original land transaction, the hall now has to be removed and sold.

“This is the first time we have heard from the ministry that they can’t purchase land with buildings on it,” Mr Wise complained at this week’s meeting of the district council.

“There is a lack of professionalism operating in that department,” Mr Wise said.

“Why didn’t this come to light years ago? This is costing us quite a lot of money.

“Everything we have done has been in good faith, but the actions of the ministry are appalling.”

Tamahere councillor Wally Hayes said the council would not be in this situation if the original agreement on the land had been in writing.

“Who pays to demolish the hall? The ministry are the only party that doesn’t want it to stay,” Mr Hayes said.

Council chief executive Gavin Ion said the council would investigate the cost of demolishing the hall against shifting it off-site, in looking to complete the land transaction.

But Mr Ion warned that the old hall, built in the 1920s, was not in good condition.

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