A civic welcome for the new glass tutor at UCOL Glass School has been described as an "extravagant booze-up" by one district councillor who is unhappy with the extent and expense of the affair.
Mayor Annette Main has invited councillors and senior council officers to the function in the council chambers from 5.30-7pm next Tuesday to formally welcome Dr Kathryn Wightman.
Councillors were emailed details about the "civic welcome" on Thursday but that immediately fired up Cr Ray Stevens, who questioned the need and cost of holding such a welcome. "We do not accord other dignitaries this esteemed honour," he said in an email to council colleagues yesterday. "Times are a little tough for the ratepayers and this extravagant 'booze-up' is not quite what they would appreciate."
"It seems a waste when we are [only] giving volunteers of Wanganui a 'cuppa'," he said. He suggested a simple "meet and greet" would have been more sensible.
"Taking her for a coffee across the road would have made more sense than a full blown civic reception, as this appears to be.
"We've got ratepayers who are struggling to make ends meet and they're having to cut their cloth. This council needs to be doing the same," Cr Stevens said
The Chronicle asked the Mayor's office for a cost of the function but all Ms Main would says was that she expected it "would be less than all of us going out for a flat white".
Costs for the event will have to cover transportation (Ian Jackson Transport), catering (Joe Power, Essence Catering), wine and beer on a use or return basis (The Mill), glassware (Harrisons Hire Centre) and a photographer (Maxilab).
Ms Main said Dr Wightman had been invited to meet councillors and senior council staff at "a small, low-key function".
"I consider it important that, given the funding provided by council, an opportunity is provided for us to meet Dr Wightman, who has the task of ensuring the Glass School meets our expectations of that funding," she said.
But Cr Stevens said to suggest that this was a simple meet and greet was a "fabrication".
He said celebrating success was another matter, such as the welcome the council led for the Wanganui rep rugby team when it won the Heartland title. "And it should be something we do to recognise Rebecca Scown's bronze medal effort in the Olympics. But this doesn't fall into that category," he said.