A new Digital Hub for CHB plugs a gap left by the “unacceptable” closure of its earthquake-prone library last year.

Provincial Growth Funding has been allocated to improve digital access, provide a five-year home for the library and host AA services.

The new Bogle Brother’s Esplanade site, commonly known as the “Old Buck’s” Building, was expected to open in July.

It provided a medium-term solution for the library, which closed in May 2020 after being deemed, “earthquake prone” – and rated less then 20% of new building standards.

It was bombshell news, as both Council and community believed remedial strengthening work had already been completed in 2016.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council Chief Executive Monique Davidson said the new hub provided a good stopgap measure, as they continued to seek answers.

“We fully acknowledge that the situation is unacceptable, and we continue to pursue our investigation into the structural vulnerabilities of the original Waipukurau Library building,” she said.

“It is my commitment that we understand how this situation occurred. We have engaged a peer review of the detailed seismic assessment, in addition to legal counsel, and now have an independent investigation underway to understand what went wrong, how it went wrong and whether parties are accountable.”

Residents of CHB had made significant investments in the initial seismic strengthening of the old Library site, and deserved to know what went wrong.

“We know our community expects answers, and we will continue to be as transparent and open as we can be with our information, while not jeopardising the process”, Davidson said.

Plans to develop a long-term solution for Waipukurau Library were earmarked for 2030 – Year 9 of the Council’s Long Term Plan 2021-2031.

As for other services to be provided by the hub, industry partners and key community organisations would be engaged to determine what programmes and facilities to offer.

CHB Mayor Alex Walker said securing external funding to deliver more support to local businesses was a “huge win”.

 “As we extend digital access, technology, programmes and our services, we also weave together the different threads and partnerships that are the foundation of any strong community,” Walker said.

“This new hub will become a digital gateway for businesses, employers and anyone wanting to learn and connect across the district.”

Community organisations who wanted to find out more about plans for the site, or get involved, could contact Council on: 06) 857 8060.

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