Mosgiel library to host polytech learning centre

Chris Staynes
Chris Staynes
The Otago Polytechnic's Community Learning Centre will move to the Mosgiel library next month, ending a debate about the best home for the facility.

The decision has disappointed Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather, who said last night the council did not take full account of the board's concerns.

He was also "a little bit incensed" that, despite being at yesterday's council meeting when the decision was made, he was not invited to speak.

The proposal to relocate the learning centre to the town's library was raised by polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker last year, and presented to the community board earlier this year.

The polytechnic had operated a learning centre in Mosgiel since 2004, offering introductory computer courses and National Certificate programmes, but government cuts to community education funding had put the city's three centres under threat.

But community board members were not keen on using the foyer of the Downes Room at the library, instead voting on February 1 for "option two", a $20,000 plan involving decommissioning male toilets and enlarging that area to house the centre.

During discussion on a report to a full council meeting yesterday, Cr Lee Vandervis argued ratepayers' money should not be used for "government departments that have had their budgets slashed".

But Cr Bill Acklin moved the centre be allowed to use the foyer for 12 months, described as `a trial period", and deputy mayor Chris Staynes summed up the argument for that outcome.

Cr Staynes said 274 people had used the centre in the past year, including the many elderly people in Mosgiel who required help with their computer skills.

"The community does not want it to disappear."

He accepted there might be some inconvenience for other users with the centre in the foyer, but in the long term, it would not be serious.

Mayor Dave Cull agreed, saying that in the context of the city's digital strategy, partnerships with government organisations were the sort of "lateral thinking" the council needed to use.

After the meeting, council library services manager Bernie Hawke said the option approved would cost little and require little work, such as adding power points and installing cabling.

Polytechnic business and sport group manager Chris Morland said he expected the centre to be ready to open by late March.

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