Northern News : January 26th 2010
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 House and Land Packages 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom from $350,000* Uncertain future: The Far North District Council's Kaikohe headquarters and, inset, Wayne Brown is keeping quiet. Photo: RICHARD EDMONDSON Fears for town's jobs By RICHARD EDMONDSON A QUESTION mark hangs over the future of about 150 jobs in Kaikohe amid rumours that the Far North District Council may relocate more staff to Kerikeri. Kaikohe-Hokianga Com- munity Board chairman Win Stephens understands the council doesn't plan to extend the lease on its Far North Holdings-owned headquar- ters where 149 staff are based. All I've heard is that the mayor said at a Far North Holdings meeting that he would not renew the lease on the council chambers in June. It came from a very reliable source.'' Mr Stephens is also chair- man of the Kaikohe Business Association which shares the board's concerns about the possible loss of jobs in the town where businesses are already struggling. The association fears we'll end up with another vacant building and have less money spent on goods and services.'' He plans to ask Mr Brown to clarify the situation at tomorrow's council meeting. Councillor Sally Macauley says Mr Brown has been seen looking for offices to lease in Kerikeri. I've got my moles out and they're telling me where he's gone and what he's doing.'' She has tried unsuccess- fully to get Mr Brown and his staff to divulge their plans and has asked chief executive Dave Edmunds to provide a position statement. They're keeping tight- lipped over everything.'' She promises to fight tooth and nail'' to stop more council jobs leaving town. Mr Brown won't say if the council will renew the lease on its Memorial Ave offices which need reroofing. We haven't decided that and we're not going to do that via the press. You can't rule out that Far North Holdings may not even exist by then.'' Moving more Kaikohe- based staff to Kerikeri isn't something the council is look- ing at, he says. It's not on the agenda but the chief executive has been heavily incentivised to reduce costs, so he's probably con- sidering all sorts of things in order to do that.'' He rejects a rumour that the council plans to build new offices in Kerikeri. I can categorically say we are not buying land or build- ing any buildings anywhere.'' The council may, however, relocate its 65 staff at the John Butler Centre in Kerikeri to cheaper offices. People have accused me of owning that building but management chose the build- ing and we all think it's a bit expensive.'' Mr Brown says it is likely the council will always have a service centre in Kaikohe. But he refuses to give an assurance that most council workers will remain in the town. Every business shifts the size of its operations accord- ing to where the customers are. I'm not ruling anything in or out. I'm just saying that we're rational people.''
January 19th 2011
February 2nd 2011