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The Press – Yardley column. April 9

The Cathedral Debate.

You don’t have to be a hard-boiled cynic to suspect that we are being led by our nose by the Anglican Church to embrace the contemporary Cathedral option. But should “faster and cheaper” win the day? The Church Property Trust has been rather mischievous in ratcheting up the cost estimate and building timeframe for the restoration option. Their top-end estimations of 22 years and $221M, clearly designed to turn people off restoration, is more than double the calculations of the expert engineering advice currently before the High Court. As a point of comparison to the ridiculous 22 year outer-limit timeframe, the Arts Centre is on-track to complete the full restoration of its 23 heritage buildings within 7 years. And once again on the financial front, the Church Property Trust is failing to take into account the enormous and well-moneyed reservoir of international goodwill that will help deal to the price-tag of retention, if only the church signalled such a willingness.  I have been struck by the number of young people, particularly university students, who strongly support retention. I thought contemporary was meant to be cool, and was meant to appeal to people who want to be cool.  Interestingly, our youngest city councillors, namely Gough, Carter, Keown and Johanson are all in the retention camp. Meanwhile, Mayor Parker has been all over the paddock. This time last year, he was cheerleader-in-chief for restoration. Bob Parker even tried to get the Bishop to hand the emblematic building over to the city. Then, in February, Parker was passionately spruiking his preservation plan to encase the cathedral in “crystalline glass.” So much for that. The Mayor has jettisoned his February solution and is now publicly embracing bowling the old girl in favour of the contemporary option. Who knows what his position will be next month.  With over 15,000 votes cast in The Press opinion poll, the contemporary option has failed to overwhelm the familiar. 55% of respondents clearly want a cathedral of continuity, of legacy – a cathedral they recognise. There is scope for compromise.  Under the banner of retention, the church still needs a brand new west wall and spire. This is the canvas that the cool cats from the contemporary crowd should be encouraged to direct their creativity at.

Hot Air.

The Indian summer’s long march into April appears to have spluttered, with the Southern Alps now bearing its snow coat. With home heating a topic du jour, do you want to save some serious money? If you’re a gas cylinder delivery customer, threaten to leave your existing supplier, and chances are they’ll offer to waive that odious, obnoxious and shamelessly grasping annual $100 per cylinder rental fee. ( In the unlikely event they don’t – just hang up, hastily.)  Give it a go. Call your supplier, tell them you’re leaving – and stand by for the big suck-up. Goodbye fee.


Mike Yardley’s weekly column on local current affairs in The Press, as published on April 9.7031646


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