Sparrow v Guppy in mayoral race

BY COLIN WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2010
sparrow
NEW FACE: Mayoral and council candidate Adrian Sparrow.

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Upper Hutt Leader

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Upper Hutt's city mayoralty will be contested.

Adrian Sparrow, owner of an Upper Hutt-based EIQ Risk Management company, will stand against Wayne Guppy, Upper Hutt's mayor since 2001 and elected unopposed three years ago.

"After three terms it's time for a change," Mr Sparrow, a former director of the Fair Trading Branch of the Commerce Commission, says.

The 50-year-old will also nominate for a councillor's position, noting "the councillors seem too content".

The English-born Mr Sparrow says his work previous to setting up his business at his Logan St home had halted any local government ambitions.

"I've always been tied up actually working in the machinery of government and it would have been a bit awkward, permissible but awkward," he says.

For a man tilting at Upper Hutt's top job Mr Sparrow is largely satisfied with the performance of a council he has been a ratepayer to since shifting to Upper Hutt 20 years ago.

"There's an awful lot happening and the council is generally good in terms of what it is doing.

"The customer service is good, the council is well-run and the rates are good value for money," says Mr Sparrow who, with his partner, has two children and two step-children.

But the recent move at council to change dog control laws and the twelfth hour decision to remove an approved rear entrance in the redeveloped library were decisions he finds worrying in process and outcome.

Describing himself as "a leader who knows how to get high performance out of a team and initiate practical action to make the most of a situation", Mr Sparrow says the role of mayor "is not all about the detail".

"It's helping shape the vision from where the city can go forward," he says.

Issues facing the city are the need for more businesses  "that's a real problem"  and problems around youth crime, including bullying, loitering and graffiti.

"There's a danger we'll all be seen as an unsafe, undesirable place to live when the reverse is the case," he says.

As mayor Mr Sparrow would "work hand in glove with the police" on these issues, the former Hong Kong detective says.

Retailing, and the retailing mix, remains a big problem but Mr Sparrow is skeptical about Mr Guppy's recent meetings with Upper Hutt shop owners.

"These talk shops ... maybe it's a good idea but why wasn't it done some time ago?"

"People don't shop in Wellington for convenience," he says.

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"What we need is more variety. People have to know its worth their while to walk around Upper Hutt."

Mr Sparrow thinks a combination of "rates relief incentives and sanctions" for owners of vacant shops would be something to look at.

Mr Sparrow, a hapkido instructor at the Upper Hutt Martial Art Academy, believes local government is important and something he wants to contribute to.

"The local voice is the important one," he says.

"Having worked in central government the majority of decisions which have an impact on lives are the local ones."

- Upper Hutt Leader

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