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The extraordinary meeting which didn’t have an agenda

Wellington.Scoop
Less than thirty hours before the start of Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting of the Wellington City Council – demanded in a rush by nine councillors – no agenda had been published on the council’s website and no reports had been provided to inform the debate about controversial roading plans.

The council website offered a big agenda and reports for a scheduled council meeting that’s taking place on the same day. But at midday today, if you wanted to find out about the extraordinary meeting, there was nothing except an excuse:

The agenda will be added to the website once it has been confirmed.
Requests for public participation will be confirmed following consultation with the Chair of the meeting. This will be after 12noon on Tuesday.

A council advertisement at the back of the DomPost’s business section yesterday morning gave one sentence of information. It said the purpose of tomorrow’s meeting is “to confirm Wellington City Council’s position on the Wellington Roads of National Significance transport improvements for State Highway One south of Ngauranga”. But that’s not an agenda. It sounds more like a threat.

The nine councillors (including the deputy mayor) called Wednesday’s meeting after rejecting the mayor’s plan for the debate to be scheduled after staff had prepared relevant reports. But without such information, ratepayers and newly-elected councillors have no facts about what position the nine want the council to confirm.

Councillor Helene Ritchie asked to be given details of resolutions that were agreed when the council last discussed the subject, before the election. She suggested the council should not be supporting plans which haven’t been made public. And she said the council shouldn’t be reaching a position till it has consulted with the public.

Her viewpoint would not have been welcomed by the NZ Transport Agency, the force behind the meeting which has been described on the Save the Basin website as an extraordinary abuse of Council processes:

It displays a terminal lack of judgement on the part of the councillors involved. Some can be excused on the basis of their first-term neophyte status, but others – such as alleged champion of the Basin Reserve, John Morrison, and Porsche-driving “tireless environmental campaigner” Ray Ahipene-Mercer should know better.

A Wellington.Scoop reader says it’s not the Council that should be re-confirming anything. She says councillors should be asking the Transport Agency to re-commit – because the transport plan requires traffic management studies, bus priority planning, and improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, none of which have been carried out.

Voters in the eastern suburbs will have different concerns. Faced with the discovery of plans to put a four-lane highway through Hataitai, they’re also realising that all three of their councillors are in the pro-roads camp. If they don’t want a motorway in their neighbourhood, it won’t be any use seeking help from Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Gill or Marsh.

UPDATE
Late this afternoon, barely 24 hours before the extraordinary meeting is due to begin, the council has at last published an agenda and a 12-page report suggesting a number of recommendations.

1 comment:

  1. vryn evans, 19. April 2011, 15:26

    This issue has become emotionally charged with all the elements of a slanging match developing within the WCC chambers. Surely, it is at this stage just a committment by the WCC to the NZ Transport Authority for future roading improvements which include State Highway Number One which goes as far as the airport. There are substantial processes ahead before any construction develops. The Mayor of our city could virtually hijack any development. Interesting thought isn’t it ?