Petone is short of meeting places for community groups and voluntary organisations, according to long-time local identity Roy Hewson.
He says the problem got worse since the Red Cross Hall in Kensington St was sold recently and got transported to the Wairarapa.
“There are some halls but they are all privately owned apart from the meeting space in the library.”
He says while schools have halls and other spaces, they are in use during the day when many groups like to meet. The Petone Working Men’s Club is one option. But its best meeting spaces are upstairs, which can be difficult for older people to access.
There are vacancies in upstairs meeting rooms at the Petone Community House. However, those downstairs are fully booked.
Across the road in the library complex, the meeting room used by the Petone Community Board is also very busy.
Mr Hewson belongs to Probus which currently has 60 members. Mr Hewson says they would like to take on more members – there are 20 on their waiting list. But the community board room can’t hold any more and Mr Hewson says there are no other suitable meeting spaces around Petone that can be booked on a regular basis.
Mr Hewson says he has made Hutt City Council aware of the problem. “Once upon a time we had lots of small halls all around Petone. Now there’s nowhere to build a hall in Petone.”
He is waiting to hear the council’s ideas on the issue. “I know it’s being bashed around.”
Petone Community Board chairman Gerald Davidson agrees Petone has a lack of good meeting spaces.
He says WelTec has some large spaces, such as lecture theatres. But they are fully utilised during the day. Petone rugby and cricket clubs hire out their spaces for functions. But they are not suitable for smaller groups. Mr Hewson says those clubs also charge commercial hireage rates which are beyond what many community groups can afford.
Mr Davidson says Petone suffers in comparison with many others areas because it no longer a secondary school. While the buildings of the former Petone College remain, Mr Davidson says the Office of Treaty Settlements has made it clear it will not open them up for the community to use.
Council spokesperson Scott Dennison says the council is not aware of their being a problem with meeting spaces in Petone. He says the council’s own facilities are under-utilised and there are other options such as the scout hall and senior citizens hall. “But we are happy to talk to Mr Hewson about the issue.”