Sunday, March 13, 2005

User Charges strike

18 year old Howick Councillor and would-be 2008 National Party candidate Jami-lee Ross is leading a charge to introduce user charges at Manukau City's public swimming pools.

With the support of a group or right wing councillors he has won a vote (9-6) at the council's annual plan meeting to introduce charges of $1 to $2 for entry to public pools.

I unequivically oppose this move. Not only is it an attack on a cherished local tradition of free pools that Manukau City residents have enjoyed for many years, but it is the thin end of a user charges agenda that no residents I know of want.

If charges for pools are to be introduced, then why not libraries, parks, rubbish, and any other council service under the sun? Of course we also know that it is the poor and middle income earners who suffer the most under a user pays regime, which makes it particularly appalling that MCC with it's high proportion of people on lower incomes is considering the proposal.

Some ironies:

- Councillor Ross campaigned that he would "give the youth of this city a voice". I somehow doubt that young people in Manukau who now face a curtailment of one of their few remaining free leisure activities feel that this is their voice.

- Councillor Ross is currently running a petition protesting the impact of a recent rates rise on residents, yet now wants to sock it to them when they send their kids for a weekend swim!

I will be campaigning against pool charges and am confident that the proposal can be reversed.

1 comment:

Greg Stephens said...

I wouldn't push it too far as it is a local council decision, not a central government one and the independence of each should be respected.
But the fact that you have free pools really suprises me, we have to pay for for them here in Wellington.