Kapiti Lifestyle - Chair of ROBB, Christopher Ruthe.
A group of Kapiti Coasters say they are outraged the Mayor and councillors have slashed the library budget and they are determined to have it reinstated.
Lobby group 'ROBB' has been established to fight the council's decision. The group ROBB – (Restore Our Book Budget) held its first meeting on 19 August 2019.
The trigger was KCDC cutting the book purchase budget by almost half; down from $402,500 to $211,000. Many of the 41,000 library members have expressed how deeply upset and disempowered they feel.
The Chair of ROBB, Christopher Ruthe, says there is proven community support for the cause.
"Over 80% of Kapiti residents are members of our libraries. That is 41,000 out of 52,000 people. This is the highest membership in the whole of New Zealand. We are all proud of that. Yet this Council has treated the 41,000 with contempt. We have been robbed."
He says people are upset because there was no consultation. The $402,500 budget was set in the long term plan after consultation as Council is legally required to do. The slashing was done in secret.
"It is seen as the final straw following the forced closure of the Waikanae library due to negligent maintenance. The independent Morrison Low Report into that library was scathing in its criticisms of KCDC. A summary of the Australian report stating there were 'systemic and organisational flaws' along with 'a dysfunctional culture within council'."
Mr Ruthe says ROBB believes innocent library members are being made to pay for the Waikanae library building debacle. ROBB says this is unfair and unjust. And worse, it is the readers that are having to pay.
"The Mayor and Councillors have previously said they are for the health and well being of the community. Yet they cut resources for a most important council facility that achieves this. All the world's leading neurologists and neuropsychologists agree as to the importance of reading to mental health."
Mr Ruthe says ROBB was seeking to resolve matters by discussion. However it understands that the cut is irreversible with this current Mayor and Councillors.
He says, faced with the Mayor and Councillors intransigence the only option of registering opposition to the cuts is by petition and leafletting. It seeks:
1. Immediate reversal of the recent funding cut
2. Proper funding for new library acquisitions.
3. A commitment to increase funding levels at least to the equivalent of Wellington within six years.