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City Council.

SPECIAL MEETING. THE NEW MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS. A special meeting of the City Council was held last night to receive the report of the joint Committee appointed to consider the designs for the Municipal buildings; present— His Worship the Mayor, and Couucillors Vincent, Louisson, Bowman, Hosking, Manning, Tait, Andrews, Gray, Grinsted, Crooks, Prudhoe, and Kiver. His Worship explained the object of the meeting, and called upon tho Town Clerk to read the following COMBINED COMMITTKE'ti KEI'ORT. " Your Committee having carefully aonsidered the various designs and plans submitted to them for Municipal offices, and taking into account the nature of the accommodation provided, and more particularly the report of the quantity Surveyor, with regard to the cost of construction, have unanimously decided to recommend the acceptance of the design with the motto, 'Design with beauty, build with truth.' " Councillor Vincent moved the adoption of the ropart. There had been oue design which the Committee preferred to that selected, but when tho quantities were taken out it was found that the cost would exceed tho amount at the Council's disposal. Tho internal arrangements of the design seleoted were extremely good. Councillor Louisson seconded the motion. Councillor Maiming asked if the question of site had been determined. His Worship said that question had been determined when the Council resolved to call for designs. Councillor Grinsted deprecated any rush with the municipal buildings.- In a few yeara the present site would be much too small, and he thought the Municipal Eeserve, or old post-office site.. Bhould be utilised. On that site, for the expenditure of ,£SOOO or .£OOOO, a sufficiently commodious building could be erected. It should be remembered that in the course of a few years some of tho suburban townships would join the city. At the very least he thought the citizens should have an opportunity of expressing thoir views on the subject. Councillor Bowman deprecated the loss of income which would be caused by putting up a paltry building on so valuable a site as the Municipal Eeserve. He would support the present motion. Councillor Crook had been terribly taken to task for supporting the present position, but he could not see his way to altering hiß views. The tramway was to start from the Council yard and the present site was most central. It was absurd to think of removing tho chambers to Market square. Councillor Gray rose to move the adjournment of the Council. Thi3 was the last dying kick of the Mayor. He (Councillor Grjiy) opposed the motion on behalf of three-fourths of the ratepayers. (No.) Any dead fish would float with the stream, but to go against a majority required a lively fish. He ■ had been reproached with 'writing to the newspapers, but he had written no letters that he had not signed "his name to. His Worship the Mayor, at the banquet the other clay, had heaped insults on him I (Councillor Gray), but he was not surprised ! at his Worship insulting one of his guests. It had been freely rumoured through the city -that it was a foregone conclusion that a certain architect should get the acceptance, and to-day he had been informed of the Committee's decision. This did not say much for the discretion of the Committee. While three months had been allowed for tenders for an insignificant building, 1 yet eight or ten days were considered sufficient for the present designs. Another matter he objected to was the secrecy maintained aa to the raising of funds. First, the Council had been informed that the thing . was to be financed without coming on the | rates at all ; then, that the rents irom the [ Market reserve would go a loug way towards the expense, and now the Council was goiwj; to the Banks to boldly hypothecate the rates. This wa9 really a question of a loan, and should not be dealt with without the consent of the ratepayers. Tho most prominent exception he took was on the ground of the site. If it was shown to him that further accommodation was required he would go with the rest of the Council; but as to the site, he opposed the proposal in Mo. The City Yard wns to be a depAt for refuse, and lie feared the officials would suffer in their health. This was an objection which ought to weigh with the Council. As to the other site, the designs sent in would nofc disgrace ifc. But he thought that only part of a larger structure should at first be erected. He would suggest that designs for a larger building should be invited, or Mr Maddison's designs might be utilised for a part of the building previously approved of. He regretted that his Worship should have made such an error in judgment. At the luncheon the other day His Worship stated that a rate of 3d or 4d in the .£ would be required for the larger building, but any child would know that IJd or 2d would be all that would be needed. People were told that the reserve was going* to be reconveyed and let at a rent of a thousand a year. There were j^oiug to be hot swimming baths and other grand schemes worthy only of Sir Julius Yogel or His Worship the Mayor. He would liko the Council to have taken a legal opinion as to the right of the Council to raise the money without the consent of the ratepayers. He maintained that there were other works urgently required. Though some useless bridges were being built, new ones were required in Antigua street and Colombo atreet, and if there was money to spend it should be spent on these. He did not suppose the Council would refuse to pass Councillor Vincent's motion, but must protest against this "job" aud waste of .money. He belioved that right wns might, and that the public would reverse the decision of the Council. Councillor Tait had not spoken on the subject yet, but would like to say that he thought the matter had been brought on very hurriedly. He had come to the conclusion that if the buildings could be erected without an increase of the rates he would vote for them. As to a Town Hall, it was not required for some years. It had not been shown to him that the action proposed was legal, or could be carried out without increase of rates. In other places a lot of money was locked up in Town Halls. Such was the case in Geelong. In Sydney there was no Town Hall, though the municipal buildings were very elaborate, and there was a handsome supper-room. If no increase of rates was required, there was no need to consult the citizens, who would surely trust the Councillors in this matter. With regard to the design chosen, he approved of it, though ifc was nofc the best, becauso the best would be too expensive. Councillor Louisson complimented Councillor Gray upon tho remarks he had made, and his fluent manner. No doubt his ex perience in talking against time in the Parliamentary Debating Club, had stood to him. As far as Councillor Gray was concorned, he evidently had not grasped the wholo Bubject, but the older Councillors would remember that tbe subject had been fully discussed so far hack as 1870. This proved that there had been no indecent haste. Ab for three-fourths of the ratepayers being opposed to the scheme, this was nofc the case. He could safely say that he had not met a single ratepayer opposed to the proposal. They were quito content to leave it in the hands of the Council, which consisted of men of business, among whom were two practical builders. If the Council wa3 not competent to deal with the matter, it was time for them to retire. Tn small matters, or anything in which a special rate was not required, the Council had full power to act. Aa things now were it would be a gigantic wrong to commence a Town Hall tliat would disgrace the grand sito to be eventually used. What was the use of it now when there was already a splendid hall in the City which was not paying its

rates. It would bo time enough in fifty years to begin such a Town Hall. The opposition came from Councillor Gray and a few who thought with him. Councillor Gray's opposition was not a very important thing, for that Councillor opposed everything proposed for the benefit of the City. He had violently opposed the £25,000 loan. The ratepayers approved of that loan, and still did so, and approved of the works which wore being done out of tho loan. As for the short time given for designs, the answer to that was the fact that ten sets of splendid plans had been sent in, some of them far beyond the means at the disposal of the Council, and all very elaborate.

His Worship : There are 13 plans. Councillor Louisson must apologise to Councillor Gray for saying that he opposed everything. There was one thing he did support, and that was a new bridge in Colombo street. The bridge was still serviceable, but ho (Councillor Louisson) hoped to see a good stone bridge erected ore many years have elapsed. Councillor Gray had referred to the banquet. At that banquet were present many Cantorbury business men, and nearly every individual there approved of the present proposal. What Councillor Gray had said did not call for much argument to be refuted, but with regard to the plans, he (Councillor Louisson) would say that two practical builders approved of the plans recommended, and believed they would not exceed the amount afc disposal. Ho would be sorry to thiuk that the Council would have to sit in the present municipal buildiugs for moro than anothei* twelvemonth. He was quite sure that Councillor Grinsted would change his views were he to go round the building with the City Surveyor. Councillor Hosking had at first deemed it advisable to build piecemeal a new Town Hall on the old plans. In a Committee of nine he had beon alone in these views, and had come to the conclusion that he must be wrong, and therefore he had given in his adhesion to the other eight. He had met only four gentlemen who wished the building to be on the Town Hall site, but these gentlemen wero interested in propeity close to the site. He could not understand how it could be said that three-fourths were opposed to the proposal now made. Six letters had been written to the newspapers, and these were mostly anonymous. Tho present site was now called out of the way, but it had never been thought so during these twenty years. The new site was a beautiful one, and he would never be a party to tho erection of a half-building on ifc. If the citizens weuld consent to a loan of .£50,000 for tho purpose, he would not object ; but he could not forget the miserable appearance that the unfinished Melbourne Houses of Parliament presented for so many years. He would support the motion, and was quite certain the citizens would approve of the action of the Council.

Councillor Prudhoe was disposod to support the resolution. He had beon spoken to by three ratepayers, whom he had told that he was sent to the Council to use his best discretion. It would be the height of madness to put up only part; of a building on the Town Hall site. Tho Committee had carefully considered the matter, and could come to no ofcher conclusion than they had come to.

Councillor Andrews was surprised that the report of the Committee had not been laid before tbe Council previous to the meeting*, so that the members could have well considered their decision. He supposed this was an oversight. He sympathised with Councillors Gray and Grinsted. Ho hud yone through the plans, and was of opinion that there was no comparison between tho design approved of and the other designs, though thero were many good ones. The planning was deserving of every praise, and the taste displayed -was excellent. The. southern elevation should have been the eastern, but this could easily be remedied. With that exception the design approved of appeared to be perfect. Then as to the cost, any doubt could be removed by a proviso insisting that the structure must not exceed the amount stipulated. With regard to the question of site Councillor Hoskiug had been very quickly converted, and as to writing to newspapers that gentleman wrote more than he (Councillor Andrews) did. As for incomplete buildings, he rather liked to see a promise of future increase. When Christchurch became what it would be when the West Coast Railway was constructed, there would be ample demand for the offices the Council intended to build. He believed that if tho ratepayers were polled, a majority— not a large one— would support tho present motion. He would vote for the motion. Tbe Committee had no alternative but; to accept the design that they had. With regard to the money, something should have been said as to how the necessary amount could be raised without affecting fche rates. He would like to hear the Chairman of the Finance Committee give some information on this point.

Councillor Tait had recommended the placing of the main elevation in Worcester street.

His Worship was about to vacate the position which he had occupied for two years, and had previously been a member of the Council for some years. It was not usual in that Council to indulge in personalities, as Councillor Gray had done. What that. gentleman had said contained nofc a single argument worth answering, 'lhe Council was nofc a mock parliament, but in his opinion it was very bad taste for a member to go to another platform and attack his colleagues there. Members of the Council should not go to tho newspapers. Councillor Gray had very little constructive ability, but a great deal of destructive. Councillor Gray's name had never been mentioned at the lunch, though possibly he might have taken to himself the epithet of "Monday night Councillor." The word "job" was a nasty word to be used. He (his Worship) emphatically denied the right of any one to use the word in connection with anything that he had done. As to the legality of the question, he had referred to the Act, and read clause 87 of the Act (read). The deed upon which the land was granted to the Council stated that it was for public buildings for tho benefit of the citizens. *' That settled the question of legality. Aa to the cost, he had said that .£30,000 or £10,000 would cost a 3d or 4d rate. Now, the .£25,000 loan cost a IJd rate, so that hia statement was not far out. A decent building, which would be fit for the city for 50 years, would cost at least £10,000. As to the Colombo street bridge, it had only recently been re-planked, and lit 1 would get a written report as to its condition. The assertion thnt three-fourths of the citizens were opposed to the present proposal he did not believe. Some ratepayers living in the north-west district felt disappointed because they had always expected any money that was spent to be spent on the Town Hall site. To Councillor Grinsted he would say that there had been no haste in the matter. The expenditure had been fully discussed seven years ago. To the objection that it would shelve the erection of a Town Hall indefinitely, he would reply that he would be glad that this should be so. A Town Hall was a white elephant to most places. Councillor Tait, like himself, had been'travelling, and had acquired notions beyond those of a Little Pcddlington. He looked forward to the pleasure of meeting Councillor Gray on the platform at a public meeting, a3 ho had done on a former occasion, when Councillor Gray got fifteen hands held up for him. At the meeting alluded to Councillor Gray had said that the rates must be increased, yet they had been reduced from ls 3d to 10id. As to the financial aspect of the question, the Council could get an advance from the bank at a moderate rate, or a, loan could be got on the reserve, and tho Sinking Fund Corn-

missioners would lend the money at a low interest. He preferred the first plan, and advocated tho putting aside of £1000 a year for five years towardß paying off the loan. With the improved condition of the roads, the completion of the asphalt pavement, «.*>.<'. , there should be no difficulty in the matter. The credit balance which the Council frequently had, might also go to the decrease of interest. Last year £100 had been spent on tho reserves, which must soon give back a return. As to the site, he had believed that the present one should bo kept as a river bank, but, under all the circumstances, believed

the new buildings would be of so ornamental a character that the beauty of tho bank would not bo impaired by thoni. There was no question that tho convenience of tho officials would be cousulted by the buildings now proposed. The report was now put and carried. Councillor Gray alono dissenting. Councillor Andrews moved — "That, in the opinion of this Council, tho competitive designs be hung round the Chamber, to be open to the ratepayers for thoir inspection, between tho hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day until Saturday." Thia was duly seconded and agrood to. Councillor Vincent moved — " That tenders be invited for tho orection of Municipal offices in accordance with the complete detailed drawings and specifications of the designs bearing the motto, ' Design with beauty, build with truth,' provided that in accordance with the Council's resolution tho cost do not exceed ,£SOOO, tho said tenders to be cent in not later than noon of Doc. 2K." Councillor Kiver seconded this, and it was agreed to. In reply to Councillor Manning, his Worship stated that the successful competitor was Mr S. Hurst Seager, A.X.1.8.A. THURSDAY HAW- HOLIDAY. His Worship said hehad received a letter asking if the decision of the Council was final. He had received a legal opinion on the subject, which he would lay before the Council at the next meeting. Councillor Louisson expressed a hope that the Mayor would not declare Dec. 22 a public holiday. Tbere was the Anniversary Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, and other holidays all round. His Worship said the matter had not come before him as yet, but he thought a whole day not too much to give to the memory of William Sefton Moorhouse. He thought that there would be no Thursday half-holiday in that week, and the citizens might close on tho Tuesday. Councillor Louisson would prefer Anniversary Day, or one of the other holidays, when there would be a large number' of visitors in the city. It would be a great hardship to ask the citizens to close at such a busy time as Dec. 22, when so many holidays were afc hand. His Worship said he would represent to the promoters of the memorial the views that had been expressed. The Council then adjourned.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

City Council., Star, Issue 5487, 8 December 1885

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3,242

City Council. Star, Issue 5487, 8 December 1885

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