Every once in a while decisions made by our councils just don't sit well with the public.

Sometimes there is an immediate outcry, but there are times it builds steadily. Usually the outcry dies down because either the council listens to the criticism or the protests go away.

In the case of Napier's conference centre, the issue has not gone away despite public upset for several months.

The original hall on Marine Parade was built by public subscription in 1956, in memory of those who lost their lives in World War II. It featured an Eternal Flame and a Roll of Honour listing the fallen soldiers' names.

Advertisement

It later became the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre, and has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar redevelopment, including earthquake strengthening, extensions and refurbishment work.

There is no doubt it is an impressive building - I was at the opening a few months ago and liked what I saw. But over the months more and more people have become upset that the Eternal Flame and the Roll of Honour have been removed until a new war memorial space can be found. A working group has been formed to discuss this.

The council has argued that the new conference centre is no longer considered appropriate to house the items because it is a commercial venue. The counter-argument is that the original hall was built specifically as a memorial and should be preserved as that.

Sometimes buildings are more than just buildings and the emotion attached to them needs to be respected.

I am sure Mayor Bill Dalton, his councillors and chief executive Wayne Jack did not make the decision to move the items lightly, but surely now is the time to find a way to restore them to that space.

With such public feeling on the issue, it is the right thing to do.