Auckland District Law Society members have voted to keep their historic Chancery Chambers building in the city's CBD, narrowly defeating a proposal from their own committee that the building is expensive and unnecessary.
Sue Keppel, chief executive, yesterday announced the results, noting a narrow split of 373 votes against the proposal versus 354 in support of it. There were also 13 abstentions, as a total of 20 per cent of eligible members participated in the voting.
Members who opposed the sale were jubilant yesterday, saying they had feared the building would become a backpackers' lodge but now that would not happen.
"The vote was so close that without your input, Chancery Chambers would probably have wound up as a backpackers," one lawyer wrote to a group. "Please feel free to gloat some more. Normally it is bad karma to gloat, but there are exceptions. This is an exception. It is good karma to gloat over this glorious victory."
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Another member wanted to ensure nothing like this happened again.
"The next logical step from my point of view is to make sure that this situation will never happen again. Thus, I believe we need to change the ADLS constitution in an appropriate way and make sure the members are the centre around which the council and management are circling," the member wrote.
Joanna Pidgeon, society president, said the building needed money spent on it and that it was too big because the organisation had shrunk. She also said the money would be better spent elsewhere and that the society had not ruled out buying smaller premises.
"As a heritage building, the Chancery Building has required a significant and ongoing annual maintenance programme and is now at a point where the likelihood of substantial capital works is more likely in the future," Pidgeon said.
Some lawyer members also criticised the sale idea, saying the proposal has been rushed and that the tenancies could have been better managed.