Manukau Courier : December 21st 2010
www.manukaucourier.co.nz Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Rock group hits back Rocky road: Long-time South Auckland Rock and Mineral Club curator Judy Wright says the club's angry about attempts to kick it out of Nathan Homestead.Photo: SIMON WATTS By MELISSA KINEALY ANGRY rock enthusiasts reckon they ve hit a brick wall over rent and claim they re being fast-tracked out of a community arts centre. South Auckland Rock and Mineral Club curator and veteran member Judy Wright says a longstanding agree- ment with the former Manu- kau City Council allowing free access to meeting rooms at Nathan Homestead in Manurewa is no more. The club was given free workshop and meeting room space because it opened its museum in Nathan Home- stead to the public on Saturdays and members vol- unteered their time to staff it. Now it s being asked to pay between $9 and $10.75 per hour. The club says it can t afford to pay. It has a membership of just 100 people who each pay $15 a year. That fee makes the hobby affordable but means the club can t run to the hourly rental Nathan Homestead is demanding, Ms Wright says. The club has been paying to hire space for workshops and meetings since July and has received six different rental agreements with varying conditions. Members consulted a solici- tor who advised them not to sign any contract until the conditions are agreed on. The demand for rental is in effect an eviction notice , Ms Wright says. It s been stressful trying to negotiate an agreement everyone s happy with, she says. We have had a terrible year. The club used to meet in the theatre and has been offered a smaller alternative meeting room which it s not happy about. It also believes it s being double-billed -- it s being charged for workshop space to access boiling water for hot drinks when it s already pay- ing for a separate meeting room. Ms Wright, whose husband Geoff Rankin is club presi- dent, also volunteers her time to open the museum to school groups on request. But lately the schools haven t been coming. Ms Wright says the relationship with homestead management has deter- iorated to the point where the club was not invited to 85th birthday celebrations. But it was invoiced $27 for workshop space it supposedly used on the day. Arts and Culture South manager Leisa Siteine says the club has not told Nathan Homestead management that it s unhappy about the costs. It pays the same rental as other user groups, she says. Every group has a hireage agreement and the change to the Rock and Mineral Club s agreement puts it on par with the others, she says. All the other user groups have been paying for 10 years. If you are wanting to use a space you have to pay for it. It s just like any other group that uses the space. And she denies Nathan Homestead management want the club out of the cen- tre. The club was asked to move to an alternative meet- ing room because an increas- ing number of drama classes was putting pressure on the theatre space, she says. At the same time we are an arts venue supplying arts classes to the community. They have not been asked to move out. We have never asked them to move out at any stage. The group itself asked for a contract but Ms Siteine says that s now a month overdue so it s null and void. Being charged for space on the open day was a misunder- standing and the club has been told that, she says. Any user groups could have approached Nathan Home- stead management about taking part in the 85th birth- day celebrations, Ms Siteine says. We wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Our office is closed for the holidays and will reopen on January 6. Special issues will be in your letterboxes on Thursday and again on December 30 and January 6.
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