Helping hand for Masterton

By Don Farmer alisa.yong@age.co.nz, Alisa Yong -
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Carterton has opened its borders to accommodate Masterton District Council bookings. PHOTO/THINKSTOCK
Carterton has opened its borders to accommodate Masterton District Council bookings. PHOTO/THINKSTOCK

The workload of the beleaguered Masterton Town Hall may shift to Carterton, if an offer by Carterton Mayor John Booth is taken up.

Carterton District Council has offered the use of its well-appointed Events Centre to Masterton, whose council this week was forced to close the Town Hall auditorium when it was revealed the hall did not meet earthquake standards.

Mr Booth said he had told Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson that Carterton was happy to help.

"After all, if we were in the same position of having the community lose access to Carterton's Events Centre, we would expect the Masterton council to come to our aid.

"It's times like this when communities rally around and help each other. We don't want to see any shows or events turned away because they can't use Masterton Town Hall, so we will work with Masterton to make sure that no one is disadvantaged," Mr Booth said.

"If there's any difficulties for them hosting or holding events in the auditorium in the Masterton Town Hall we are happy to be available to help out down here in Carterton if they need us.

"We are just holding a hand out as a community to say that we are offering the support if they need us."

Mr Booth said he was shocked to hear the auditorium had been closed.

"It's a sad day for Masterton and the Wairarapa that this has happened but safety does come first."

Mr Booth said council had not discussed how payments made for bookings at the Town Hall would be handled if transferred to the Events Centre, as the offer had only been made yesterday afternoon.

He had spoken only briefly to Mrs Patterson, who had been grateful to hear Carterton's offer of support.

Asked if Carterton could accommodate the entire Masterton District Council staff if the call to move everyone out resulted from a second report due out in July, Mr Booth said there had been no discussion on that, but Carterton would do its best to help.

"At the end of the day it's a Wairarapa community and we work well together and we are just continuing that on.

"We are just holding out our hand to say we are here to help if we can," he said.

The July report will be an assessment of the whole of the Masterton District Council building, of which only the newest section, which houses the Civil Defence department, is likely to escape without needing work to bring it up to earthquake standards.

The council has earmarked $2.5 million to be spread over two financial years for earthquake strengthening of council-owned buildings but recognises most of that is likely to be needed for the council building itself.

In the event the staff have to evacuate the council building altogether and be temporarily re-housed, council spokesman Sam Rossiter-Stead said yesterday there are "options" available.

He would not be drawn on what those options were, saying the information was "commercially sensitive".

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