Recent changes to access to Hamilton City Libraries for Waikato District residents are a short-term move, says Waikato District Council ward councillor Dynes Fulton.
“This is all part of a process of council working towards developing a Waikato regional library facility for all.
“The long term goal is to actually increase access to libraries throughout the Waikato region, across council boundaries, whether it be Waipa, or Matamata/Piako District Councils. Our hope is that Hamilton City will be part of this.”
The current changes are an interim position as Council works through complex details. “We envisage this process should be concluded within the next 12 months.”
Rather than being a ‘done deal’ future options and solutions are being pursued.
“This is why we have made the offer of the 12-month refunding of the $80 membership fee. At the same time we are working to increase access overall in fairness to all our ratepayers.”
He acknowledges Council may not have conveyed the position clearly. “But I believe we have made the right decision. As part of the long-term plan we are required to review every aspect of Council spending and to deliver services at the most cost-effective manner. This done correctly will deliver long-term benefits to all.”
Feedback to Council has been very passionate on the topic, he says. “People are clearly unhappy with the decision. I understand the frustration and anger but we need time to work through with our neighbouring councils to develop the wider facility.”
He told N8N that Waikato District Council spends about six million annually on all library facilities. (This includes the cost of integrated service centres, which are based in libraries and offer a range of council functions.)
“We need to make sure we’re getting the best use of our money. We fully recognise that libraries are part of the fabric of society, and are important to communities. We want everyone to have access and to be able to use them in an ongoing, positive way.”