A Trentham advocacy group is pleading for independent consultation as a last-ditch effort to heal the bitter divisions over location of the town’s community centre.
The Trentham Community Forum has called for professional independent community consultation on plans for the Trentham Community Centre.
Debate and division has intensified during the past 18 months over alternate locations for the centre including previously proposed sites at Victoria and High Streets.
Trentham Community Forum deputy president Helen Macdonald said residents wanted to work with Hepburn Council for the best result but independent consultation was needed to heal the rift.
“There is a lot of people in Trentham saying we need to stop fighting about this thing and move forward and we want to do it in partnership with the council,” she said.
“We don’t want the council deciding for us as they did in August last year. We want to work with the council for the best possible result.
“Professional independent consultation will mean people feel that their voices are heard.”
A majority of 32 attendees to a Trentham Community Forum special general meeting voted in favour of community consultation on the community centre as a focus earlier this year. Members also voted for an update of the community plan.
Trentham resident Charles Sherlock said a town consultation was needed urgently because community cohesion mattered more than a building or a location.
“Small but concerted community opposition arose to the proposed location which in the last 18 months has seen some sad division in the town,” he said.
“Most of the town just doesn’t want to discuss it any more. I hope the consultation would make the topic discussable.
“Whatever the plan, we all should live with it. The town needs a good community centre that incorporates the community centre, the library and a space for people to meet. We need it.
“I hope a community consultation will see the division of Trentham to fade into the past.”
A letter labelled as “from Concerned Citizens” was sent to Trentham community residents asking for support or opposition to a town-wide consultation.
Mr Sherlock said an overwhelming amount of responses have wanted a consultation with easy and confidential responses.