Info centre likely to close without funding

The operators of the Lawrence Information Centre  say it  needs more  support from the Clutha...
The operators of the Lawrence Information Centre say it needs more support from the Clutha District Council if it is to stay open. Photo: Supplied
The Lawrence Information Centre is likely to close unless it receives "substantial" council support.

The centre is operated by volunteers with the financial backing of the Tuapeka-Lawrence Community Company (TLCC), which detailed the facility’s woes  in a public newsletter last week.

TLCC chairwoman Mel Foster said there was "huge sadness" among local people over the situation, but issues with funding, allied with increasing demands on volunteers and company directors, had been building for several years.

The time had come to take action, rather than "plodding along into crisis".

"The present group of directors, staff and volunteers has been incredibly dedicated in keeping us afloat for many years, and it’s simply not fair to continue to ask that of them. We realise any change is likely to create ripples but, given council steps up to support us, the resulting stability and sustainability will become a positive in the long term."

Talks the company had  with the Clutha District Council recently were  positive in tone, she said.

Clutha  Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he sympathised with the group. 

"I’ve always been in awe of Lawrence’s spirit and determination to support their community, and sympathise with the challenges facing Mel and her group. The concerns raised are symptomatic of what we’re seeing right across the district as volunteers and groups grapple with ever-increasing demands ...  around health and safety and responsibility of directors."

Alongside the council’s wider projects aimed at reversing long-term population decline, short-term practical support was required, he said.

"We’re now at the point where a more concerted and cohesive plan is needed — hence the full review of [all Clutha’s] i-Sites about to take place."

That was likely to entail additional costs for the council.

"It’s not for us to predetermine what emphasis our communities want to place on this issue, but my hope is we get clear direction from locals, because there will be a cost, be it financial or the inevitable loss of services, if no action is taken.

"Right now, [our volunteers] need more than just gratitude."

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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