At almost the same time as Mayor Celia Wade-Brown was being sworn in last night, the Prime Minister was announcing the success of his negotiations to keep the two Hobbit movies in New Zealand. The Hobbit decision ensures the continued growth of Miramar, where Sir Peter Jackson’s activities are centred. It also means that the new mayor begins her three-year term with the surety of substantial economic activity for her city.
No doubt she’ll be initiating discussions on many levels to take advantage of last night’s $670m news. But the results of economic planning don’t come quickly. Here are 12 suggestions which could be programmed into her first 100 days. They would enable the new mayor to show that she can deliver results quickly, and they would build on the goodwill which surrounds her election.
Put more seats in Civic Square. (On sunny days, there’s nowhere to sit). Encourage more activity in Civic Square. Where are the buskers? The food stalls?
Start the process of changing the rules so that new buildings are not allowed on Waitangi Park. The park is a success as it is. The old regime’s plans for new buildings would destroy the park’s openness and would block its connections with the harbour.
Take down the council’s “vote now” signage on top of the Embassy. [Okay - it's gone, but it's been replaced by another of the council's own advertisements.] This prime space should be leased for private advertising, which used to earn $100,000 a year for the council. (The revenue might help to cover the cost of fixing a couple of leaky homes).
Cancel the embarrassing weekly advertisements in the DomPost. They have nothing to say that couldn’t be said in half a page, or less. (The savings could help cover the cost of fixing a few more leaky homes).
Reduce the number of council websites. Does the council really need so many of them?
Tell the airport company to give up the foolish idea of a Wellywood sign. (Someone has suggested this morning that it should say Warnertown.)
Talk to the Transport Agency and tell them that the city will never accept a flyover alongside the Basin Reserve.
Fix the timing of the traffic lights which are programmed to change to red as vehicles approach them. Any motorist could provide a list of these, to be given to the city’s unobservant traffic engineers.
Fix all the droopy street signs. (This could be a project for Student Job Search.)
Find ways of opening branch libraries at weekends.
Encourage retired people to turn up at libraries a couple of days a week, to help migrants learn English or tutor a primary school child. Or to volunteer as weekend staff.
Encourage the development of stronger community identity, by facilitating summer block parties, where streets are closed off on a Saturday or Sunday to promote interest in community issues and to get neighbours to know each other. This could even lead to community involvement in cleaning up the streets, rather than complaining about the absence of the council.
Who has some other good (and simple) ideas for the new mayor?