Wellington Scoop

The council’s ten year spend: $280m, $230m, $127m, $27.7m

The mayor has been drip-feeding us with items from his proposed ten-year budget, and the biggest item so far is $280m for resilience. No one could disagree with the need for resilience.

But there are not many details yet of how it is to be spent. The mayor’s announcement specifies expenditure of less than a quarter of the total.

The smallest budget item is $27m for housing. Miraculous results are promised from such a small amount. The mayor says it will “deliver on our vision for all Wellingtonians to have a safe, dry, warm homes.” All of us are somehow to benefit, though the amount represents not much more than $2m a year. The mayor also promises that another result will be 750 affordable and social homes.

The most misleading budget item is arts and culture – $127m announced today sounds like an enormous amount, and the mayor says it will refresh and reinvigorate our arts, culture and events scene. But only $16m of it will be spent on events. Most of it – $111m – has already been allocated for strengthening the Town Hall and the St James, and the Bond Store which houses the Wellington Museum. (The Town Hall has been sorely missed as a venue for arts and culture since it was closed five years ago.)

Then there’s $230m for transport. Our optimistic mayor says this amount is “to solve congestion issues and address environmental impact.” The way in which congestion issues are to be solved is not, however, specified in the mayor’s announcement. Half of the money is being set aside “to respond to the final result of Let’s Get Wellington Moving, which is due to be released in June.”

“The final feedback we receive on Let’s Get Wellington Moving will tell us whether Wellingtonians are in favour of things like priority routes for mass transit, and a second Mt Victoria tunnel,”says the mayor.

Justin Lester has dominated all this week’s announcements about spending proposed for the city’s ten year plan. Key details in the transport announcement are provided in an initial six paragraphs from the mayor, with transport strategy and operations portfolio holder Chris Calvi-Freeman then getting three paragraphs and transport, cycling and walking portfolio holder Sarah Free getting two.

In the resilience announcement, the first nine paragraphs quote the mayor. Then at the end: two brief paragraphs from resilience portfolio holder Iona Pannett.

The housing announcement (promising warm dry safe homes for everyone) starts with six paragraphs from the mayor, and ends with only two from housing portfolio leader Brian Dawson.

There is however more equal treatment in today’s arts and culture announcement – it starts with two paragraphs quoting the mayor, and – equal treatment at last – then there are two paragraphs quoting his recently-appointed arts and culture associate Nicola Young.

The complete draft 10 year plan document has now been released and will be discussed by councillors on Wednesday. Public consultation will begin on 15 April.

Rates going up, free weekend parking to end


  1. Traveller, 2. March 2018, 9:45

    Looks as if most of the arts and culture budget should be recategorised as resilience.

  2. Citizen Joe, 2. March 2018, 11:11

    Pity Justin didn’t persuade out of towners in the GWRC to vote for keeping our city’s trolley bus infrastructure. $230million would have been more than enough for a world class, ‘resilient’ trolley bus system (with say $130million left over!). The revamped trolley bus system could have been used to market our city as environmentally friendly (ride the wind) and unique in the Southern hemisphere.

  3. Victor Davie, 2. March 2018, 13:32

    It is most unfortunate that Wellington City Council, owners of the trolley bus infrastructure, approved the dismantling of all overhead cables. A new standalone entity to be known as “Wellington City Electric Bus & Light Rail Ltd”, will stop this nonsensical destruction of strategic assets from reoccurring, and future-proof emission free public transport.