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Thursday, 17 January 2019 04:06 am

Rent rise hurts 50-year dance tradition

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RENT SHOCK: Jeanette Mullins, surrounded by pupils.

STOKES VALLEY dance teacher Jeanette Mullins may lose her premises if Hutt City Council goes ahead with a planned three-fold increase in the rental she pays.

Jeanette and members of the dance school are negotiating a lease agreement after being told the rent would increase from $500 to $1600 a month. 

“If the rent goes up, I can’t afford it so I will have to put my fees up, which a lot of my dancers can’t afford,” she says. 

The council’s north east community committee recently undertook a review of all the community halls in use in Hutt City, and the council decided in August to take four of the halls back under council management. 

These are Taita, Naenae, and Treadwell Street (Naenae) halls, as well as Stokes Valley Community Hall, which is used primarily by Jeanette Mullins School of Dance and is to be managed by the council from January 8. 

The council received feedback from residents through a survey conducted in February this year, with many in the community saying they would like more access to the hall. 

Leisure Active manager for the council, Marcus Sherwood, says the decision was made so that the halls can be better utilised by community groups. 

“The main purpose of it is to provide for the community,” he says. 

As the main leaseholder, Jeanette leased the hall to Stokes Valley community groups, including the Toy Library and Plunket, and also for weddings and functions. 

Toy Library treasurer Amanda Williamson rents a part of the hall on a permanent basis from Jeanette, and says the library would not be able to afford an increase in rent as it is a non-profit organisation. 

“If the rent was increased we wouldn’t be able to pay it; we would have to try and get a grant,” she says.

She also hopes the council will consider upgrading the premises, as membership has increased and the library is running out of space. 

A member of the Stokes Valley Plunket committee, who declined to be named, says although it has had use of the hall, this has been limited. She says Plunket is looking forward to having the hall back in the community. 

Jeanette, who has taught dancing in Stokes Valley for 50 years, 10 of those in the community hall, is unhappy with the change, as she will no longer have control over who hires the hall. She fears some users will disrupt her classes.

Although the hire fee for all council-controlled community halls in the area is the same, regular users like Jeanette receive a discount. Mr Sherwood has advised members of the dance school to petition the North East Community Committee should they feel the price is unacceptable.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student with a keen interest in the arts, fashion, photography, and travel. She hopes to turn her passions into a sucessful writing career. She also writes a blog about fashion vs. the economy called Riches to Rags (
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