User groups protest against decision

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    Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop staff (from left) social services manager Kathy Strong, group facilitator and receptionist Shannon O'Connor, and office manager Robyn Boylan, with Invercargill Student Services Network director Lois Conway outside their council-owned building last week. Photo: Hayden Williams

    THE Invercargill City Council (ICC) has a fight on its hands from two community groups, which may be forced to find another home after discovering their council-owned buildings, may be demolished next year to make way for a $30 million development.

    Members of the Invercargill Citizens Bowling Club and staff from the Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop, both in Deveron St, have been told by council staff they would not have their leases renewed when they expire in March next year.

    Members of the two groups rallied last Friday to stage a protest march.

    Protesters from the Invercargill Citizens Bowling Club and the Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop, both located in Deveron St, march to the Invercargill City Council administration building last Friday. Photo: Sharon Reece – The South Today

    The march, which began on Deveron St at 2.30pm, ended at the city administration building on Esk St where about 30 protesters were met by ICC chief executive Richard King.

    Mr King said the council had given the groups adequate notice that the leases for the properties may not be renewed.

    “Council hasn’t made any firm decision on the sale of the buildings yet, and a decision won’t be made until the end of September,” he said.

    If the sale went ahead, “a one-stop shop medical centre” which “could cost as much as $30 million” would be built on the site, he said.

    “Council will not act unreasonably, and will assist [the groups] in finding new premises,” he said.

    Locations for groups considered

    A PROCESS to find new premises for the groups had started and “several” locations were being considered, Mr King said.

    Since this still required negotiations, Mr King said he was not free to name the alternative locations.

    However, group members said they would continue to fight their possible evictions.

    Invercargill Citizens Bowling Club support secretary Delma Sands said a petition was now being put together, with bowling club members collecting signatures at supermarkets throughout Invercargill.

    Bowling club members would be in Esk St collecting signatures this afternoon.

    A spokeswoman for Number 10 said the facility’s staff were also collecting signatures.

    Number 10 and Invercargill Student Services Network (ISSN) had collaboratively shared the 10 Deveron St facility for the past 10 years, she said.

    ISSN provided educational support for young people at risk of disengaging from education,while Number 10 provided free wraparound medical and social services for youth aged 10-24 years, with more than 1400 young people accessing services yearly, she said.

    “Signing the petition is a good way to help our rangatahi (youth) and their whanau… We struggle to understand why the interests of a commercial developer would take precedence over the vital services Number 10 and ISSN provide to young people.”

    The groups’ petitions would be presented to the ICC in time for its meeting on September 26, when a decision is expected to be made about the development.

    Anyone wanting to sign the petition should visit Number 10 in Deveron St, the spokeswoman said.

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