Editorial: Council grinds to a halt

Last updated 09:21 28/02/2013

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A revealing notice arrived at The Wellingtonian office this week.

It was a memo from Wellington City Council's committee adviser democratic services Fiona Dunlop and was headed "Cancellation of Meeting".

The note informed councillors: "Mayor Wade-Brown advises that the agenda for the council meeting on Wednesday 27 February 2013 is extremely light with only two reports on the agenda . . .

"The Mayor is cancelling the Council meeting and rescheduling the reports until the 27 March 2013 Council meeting."

Apart from an offer of land as a gift in south Karori and an Absolutely Positively Wellington Award, there was no council business.

How could this be?

Does the council have the city running so superbly there is absolutely nothing to discuss, or is so little inspiration coming from the mayor and the council that all activity has basically ceased?

Sadly, the cancellation of the meeting seems to be a sign of atrophy.

The capital city is a vibrant, buzzy place and that should be reflected by the council agenda.

Instead the council has discussed at length such issues as Wellington 2040, a blueprint for the city's future, and the implications for the next century of rising sea levels.

It's good to think ahead, of course, but it would be heartening to know the council also had some current projects under way. After all, few of us will be around to judge the success of its ultra long-term planning.

About the last major project in the city was the completion of the $50 million ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie, on former mayor Kerry Prendergast's watch.

Since then, what's really happened in the city?

There have been a few artificial sports pitches laid, and there's been good work done in the area of community swimming pools.

The Memorial Park project is going ahead, but that is a Government-NZ Transport Agency initiative, not the council's.

In fact, there were even some councillors who seemed to want to block it. One, Iona Pannett, voted against it, absurdly saying it glorified war.

Vital major projects, such as the extension of the motorway towards the airport, have been delayed.

It looked last year as if there was finally to be progress on that one, but in December the council voted to go back to the drawing board, further delaying the construction of a vital road link.

When Celia Wade-Brown was elected mayor, one of her big election planks was light rail for the city.

More than two years later little progress has been made on her pet project.

Much council time has been spent on the Golden Mile, with road patterns altered in and around Manners St. That has hardly been a triumph. In fact, the fiasco has been marked by public criticism and a spate of road accidents, one of them fatal.

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The council has been all over the place on the issue of regional governance, and has made no progress on development of the waterfront.

Into the third year of this triennium, Wellington residents might think the council would be in overdrive, rushing through its most pressing projects.

Instead, its February meeting was cancelled.

There's a message there, and it's not a very heartening one.

- The Wellingtonian


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