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Community empowered to manage their facilities

Published: 9 July 2018
Left to right standing: Barry Gibbon – Chair, West Franklin Community Trust, Eleanor Kitching – Treasurer, West Franklin Community Trust, Fred Russell – Waiuku RSA, Andrew Russ – Secretary, Waiuku RSA. Left to right seated: Maurice Brighouse – Secretary, West Franklin Community Trust, Shane Hartley – Chair, Backstage Theatre Group, Andy Baker – Deputy Chair, Franklin Local Board, Brendon Crompton – Member, Franklin Local Board, Alan Thompson – Backstage Theatre Group.

This month the Franklin Local Board celebrated another important milestone in its strategy of empowering local communities as West Franklin Community Trust took on the management of the Waiuku Memorial Town Hall.

As part of Auckland Council’s rural halls programme, local boards support communities to manage and make decisions for their local facilities, as those based in a community are often better placed to know what will work best.

This is an approach the local board has been promoting to the wider community.

The West Franklin Community Trust has now signed a licence to formalise the management of the Waiuku Memorial Town Hall. Local board members Andy Baker and Brendon Crompton attended the trust’s meeting on Wednesday 20 June and participated in a celebratory glass of wine to mark the occasion. 

Also present at the meeting were representatives from hall users, including Waiuku RSA and the Backstage Theatre group that leases theatre space located to the rear of the hall. 

Hall goes from being condemned to community resource

The hall was, at one time, earmarked for demolition by the legacy council due to low usage and community involvement. 

However, in 2009, led by trust chair Barry Gibbon, the Waiuku/West Franklin community rallied around to form a trust to revitalise the hall, helping to undertake repairs and significantly increasing usage.

Barry Gibbon says that while it has taken some time and debate for both parties to reach this point, where signed agreements are now in place, the Town Hall and Backstage Theatre have been operational and are being used by the wider community.

As required by the licence, the Trust will now recruit members of the local community to form a hall committee to oversee day-to-day hall management. 

This decision follows the rural communities of Beachlands, Maraetai, Kawakawa Bay and Orere taking charge of running their local hall, and the Franklin Local Board is keen to see more groups taking up the opportunity.

Empowering local communities

Franklin Local Board deputy chair Andy Baker says having rural communities make decisions and manage their local facilities is a no-brainer.

“Our board is proud to have enabled a number of our rural communities to take charge of their halls because we want to see these halls being run by the community to return them to being important hubs within those areas.”

Under the rural halls initiative, the council is responsible for capital and renewal works, as well as major maintenance, while the hall committee manages the day-to-day operations, activation and bookings for the hall.

If you have an interest in assisting the West Franklin Community Trust, then contact WFCT c/- Barry on 09 235 9077 or for details and discussion on roles.