Let’s Fix Founders, says Chris Rollitt, Hamilton East Council Candidate
“Hamilton can’t afford a new theatre,” says Chris Rollitt, “so let’s just fix the one we’ve got.”
Mr Rollitt, who is contesting the council seat at the Hamilton East by-election in February, is opposed to the planned construction of the new Waikato Regional Theatre and says the Founders Theatre should be repaired instead.
“Realistically, fixing Founders would be cheaper than financing a new one,” says Mr Rollitt. “The theatre debate is definitely a money thing. It’s not that we don’t need a theatre, I just don’t think we can afford to build a new one right now.
“I think if we look back in history, the Claudelands development was a great example of something that starts off at one price and ends up costing almost double. From a practical point of view, I don’t think in the current climate we can afford to be committing such a huge amount of funding to something like this.”
During his campaign for the council seat, Mr Rollitt has become known for his citizen-focussed policies of working with the people, controlling rates and building strong communities. He says his views around the theatre reflect his commitment to protecting the best interests of his electorate.
“People have the view that it’s going to cost more to fix Founders than what Council is contributing towards the new one. My reservation is that if we progress with the new theatre, escalations will inevitably happen and then who picks up the tab for that? We do. The commercial interests that have contributed towards it will go as far as they’re going to go and then stop. At that point the good old Hamilton City ratepayer will pick up the tab for the escalation. That’s one of my primary concerns.
“I believe it makes better financial sense to fix founders. Also, when you look at the Founders and where it’s located, next to Seddon park, next to the Stadium, there’s a lot of support infrastructure around Founders already. There are bus stops, it’s just down from the bus station, all the transport centres, all those elements are in place. The proposed new theatre doesn’t have any of that support.
Mr Rollitt says he’s aware there’s a lot of public enthusiasm around the new theatre and he has listened carefully to what both sides have to say in the debate about whether Founders should be restored or replaced.
“Not everyone’s going to like what I’m saying. However, it would be very easy to say I support it just because it’s popular, then go back on my word once I get in - but that’s not the person I am. If something’s wrong, I’ll say it’s wrong.
“People who know me know I’ve got an opinion, I’m not scared to back it and I won’t be pushed around.
“I’m not a soft touch and I won’t sell my soul.”
Contact Chris Rollitt:
Phone: 0274 587 724