26 Feb 2014

Law change 'could leave less' for recreation facilities

12:40 pm on 26 February 2014

MPs have been told that changes proposed to local government could result in fewer libraries and public swimming pools.

The Local Government and Environment Committee has been considering submissions on a bill which would restrict how councils could use some streams of funding.

Developers have to pay a fee to the council when developing new residential accommodation and commercial, retail or industrial space.

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No. 3) would limit how councils can spend that funding, preventing them using it on libraries or recreation facilities.

The Association of Public Library Managers said that that means many new communities may not get the libraries they deserve.

Spokesperson Marion Read said libraries reach people from all walks of life and are of vital importance. "Libraries are more than just bookstores, libraries are community spaces."

The Recreation Association represents local councils, sporting groups and many businesses and its chief executive, Andrew Leslie, said many facilities were coming to the end of their useful life.

Mr Leslie said the country was facing a "ticking time bomb" and if the proposed change went ahead it would result in a dramatic increase in rates.