The Mayor of Hamilton is happy giving his top council man a $60,000 a year pay rise but he doesn’t want to pay for swings and slides for our kids.
Andrew King – who has defended paying Hamilton City Council CEO Richard Briggs a whopping $440,000 a year – has showed how little the children and families of Hamilton matter to him by making moves to axe the wildly popular and successful Destination Playgrounds program.
The same mayor who earlier this year sprung plans for a 18 per cent rate hike on us all – including his fellow councillors – has been quietly gathering the numbers from our elected representatives in readiness to stop building any more playgrounds under the programme.
Let that sink in. A council that is happy for one single man in a suit to be paid $440,000 a year – that’s $8,500 a week – can’t bring itself to shell out our money (because that’s what they are spending, ratepayers money) on playgrounds for kids.
The Destination Playgrounds programme has been one of the most wonderful and much-needed things to happen to our city. Already seven playgrounds have been built under the programme, including ones at Minougue Park, Claudelands Park, Hamilton Garden s, Parana Park and Hamilton Lake.
There were plans for 15 destination playgrounds in total.
Cr Angela O’Leary broke the news of the doomed fate of the plagrounds via her Facebook page.
”So last week at a 10 Year budget informal meeting as I launched into why I support them while trying to keep my excitement in check as we continue building new playgrounds over the coming years, the Mayor informed me that at a previous meeting (that I had to leave before the end of the day) it was agreed there was no support to continue them. I wondered if I had heard that right. So I asked again.
”The current plans for Te Huia park will continue but it will mean that destination playgrounds for Hillcrest, Glenview, Bremworth, Te Manatu, Porritt Stadium, Ashurst and Moonlight Drive will be gone.
I do not support this move to stop destination playgrounds. They are a key activity for the health and well-being of our children and families and I will fight for them every step of the way through the development of this new budget.”
I am bloody angry about this. We should all be bloody angry about this.
Playgrounds are not ”nice to have” things. They are essential pieces of community infrastructure. They provide a safe space for children to play. For many families they may be the only place mum or dad can take their children to because it is free. Playcentres use them, pre-schools and kindys use them. They are where families can hold birthday parties and family gatherings, where grandparents can spend time with their grandchildren, where memories are made.
But most importantly, and it stuns me that this even needs to be pointed out to Hamilton City Council, playgrounds are loved by children. They need them.
Are the elected councillors of Hamilton – the men and women WE voted for – going to turn their backs on our children? Tell children like my three little boys they are not worth spending money on?
Because that’s the crux of it right there. The councillors are happy to spend $440,000 a year on their boss’s salary, but they don’t want to spend OUR money on OUR children.
And if those councillors and Mayor King want to go ahead and try and take the playgrounds of my boys – of all the children of Hamilton – I promise you you’ve got a fight on your hands.
Because there is nothing worth fighting about harder for than our kids.