Council backs down over school's park charge
New rules requiring Auckland schools to fork out $90 to use parks will be reviewed after one inner-city school baulked at the fee.
Pt Chevalier School complained to Auckland Council when it was hit with the fee to hold its end-of-year picnic at Coyle Park, an event held annually for the last nine years.
Principal Sandra Aitken wrote a letter to council and councillors complaining about the new bylaw introduced in July that requires all schools to apply for an event permit and pay the charge.
The school could afford the cost but should not be made to pay to use green spaces when playing in parks is to be encouraged, Ms Aitken said.
The council has since released a statement confirming it would waive the school's fee and will be bringing forward its planned review of the new event permit fee structure.
"We fully intended to review the fee structure after a year, however that review has been brought forward as a result of recent feedback from Aucklanders," said Graham Bodman, the council's general manager of community development, arts and culture.
"Until that review is complete we will use our discretion when judging event permit applications from school groups for use of public parks."
The review will focus on low-impact activities held in public places and organised by community groups.
Councillor Christine Fletcher, who earlier told Radio New Zealand she was "completely gobsmacked" by news the school had been charged to use a park for a picnic, welcomed the fast-tracked review.
"We want to encourage all Aucklanders to use our network of parks across the region without impediment," she said.
"This is critical to our Auckland Plan goal of promoting active and healthy lifestyles to all Aucklanders, and we know that Aucklanders value these resources hugely."
The challenge was to make parks fully accessible to communities while recovering the cost to ratepayers through appropriate charging for commercial events, she said.