Petition to go before select committee

WAITING GAME: Chris Doudney says it is hard to feel confident about the fate of the Friends of Redcliffs Park petittion.

A petition to try and reinstate Redcliffs School to its original site will be tabled in a do-or-die meeting tomorrow.

Community group Friends of Redcliffs Park has been fighting for urgent legislation to prevent Redcliffs School’s relocation to the park since 2016.

A 208-signature petition from the group was referred to Parliament’s workforce and education select committee last month. A decision whether to take the matter further is likely to be made tomorrow.

Group spokesman Chris Doudney said it was hard to feel too confident about the petition’s fate considering the fight so far.

“I’d say we’re not very confident at all. But who knows though.”

It comes as Friends of Redcliffs Park is waiting on a report expected from the office of the Ombudsman in March.

Mr Doudney made a complaint against the Ministry of Education to the Ombudsman on behalf of the group on June 22 last year, noting the urgency of the request.

“They said it would be ready in March, but still nothing has happened. Then they said it would be in a couple of weeks in April, then in May, then in June.

“In the meantime, the Ministry goes ahead to demolish the school,” Mr Doudney said.

In a letter sent to the Ombudsman on August 17, Mr Doudney said the group was “very concerned that your office is taking excessive time to release your report.”

He said he understood the Ombudsman could not direct the Government to take action with regard to the report, but said the report would support the petition in allowing the group to take its concerns to Parliament.

Christchurch Central Labour MP Duncan Webb presented the petition to Parliament on behalf of Friends of Redcliffs Park in July.

Depending on the outcome of today’s meeting, the select committee may ask for more information from the submitters and arrange hearings of the evidence from both sides.

If that happened, a report would be prepared and used to advise their recommendations to Parliament.

In response to Mr Doudney’s letter, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said the investigation was “well advanced” but had raised a number of complex issues.

“All of this has taken quite some time and consideration. My office has been in regular contact with Mr Doudney regarding the progress of this investigation. I appreciate there is significant local interest in this issue and it is my intention to progress matters shortly. I know this is important,” Mr Boshier said.

Designs for the new school, set to be built in Redcliffs Park, were released last month, with construction expected to start at the end of the year.