Auckland Council has been criticised for failing to consult the community after announcing the closure of Waiheke Island Service Centre at Ostend, with two longstanding staff members losing their jobs.

The council service centre will shift from its Belgium Street office (which received a $2.5 million revamp in 2015) and move into Waiheke Library in Oneroa from June 30.

Former council worker Pat Burgess told Gulf News the closure was short-sighted and said the community will lose important knowledge and valuable expertise from its long-time staff members.

“I think it’s terrible that it wasn’t put out for public consultation,” said Pat, who worked as animal control officer on Waiheke. She said the new location was not as central as Ostend, it would be harder to get a park, would likely mean more queueing and meant library staff would need training to cover the roles.

Auckland Council had originally wanted to merge the service centre with Waiheke library when it was rebuilt in 2014 but Waiheke’s Local Board pushed hard to keep them separate after the public rejected the plan during consultation. Auckland Council bowed to public opinion then but this time there has been no public consultation and the two services will be amalgamated without fanfare.

Waiheke Local Board chair Cath Handley said the board had not been consulted on the closure, nor had it met to agree on taking a position on the matter. She says the decision has been made against a background of cost-cutting measures under Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown and sympathised with those who had lost their jobs.

“We’re just juggling at the moment,” she told Gulf News. “It’s a very tough time for council and for staff because of these austerity measures. Staff are under a great deal of stress and the mayor has been quoted as saying no staff member who works for council has a guaranteed job. • Liza Hamilton

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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