Wellington Scoop

Shame on the Regional Council – it supports the flyover, and seems unhappy with its decision

After a process that didn’t seem to satisfy anyone except Fran Wilde, the Regional Council has told the NZ Transport Agency that it supports a 380-metre concrete bridge from the Mt Victoria Tunnel alongside the Basin Reserve to the Tory Street traffic lights.

At yesterday’s council meeting, seven members of the public spoke against the bridge. But the council had already made up its mind. Unlike the City Council, it didn’t allow itself a chance to reconsider. It should have done so, because the process was a dubious one. Its submission supporting the flyover was prepared by a committee, not by the full council, who weren’t given any say.

Observers at yesterday’s meeting saw that regional councillors had a high level of concern that the wrong decision had been made.

o Chris Laidlaw recommended taking a pause; he said the heritage issue had to be resolved. “It’s a mess,” he said There was only a “modest” need to spend and a whole lot of risks.

o Judith Aitken said the regional council had missed a leadership opportunity and acknowledged that once the roading plan gets to the Environmental Protection Authority, the public will have little chance of influencing anything.

o She and others wanted to record their reservations – but chair Fran Wilde said no, the submission was made.

o Nigel Wilson (a Kapiti councillor) supported all seven public submitters who were opposing the flyover, and expressed concern that he had not been able to vote on the submission because he’d not been on the committee.

o Paul Bruce, who had voted against the submission as a committee member, also supported all the public submitters

o Daran Ponter, the only other councillor who had voted against the submission, expressed concern about the lack of democracy within the Regional Council – no-one had seen the feedback received from the public by the Transport Agency

o Barbara Donaldson said that this was all happening the wrong way round i.e. there should be a spatial plan first and then plan transport needs.

o Prue Lamason felt the Regional Council has been put in the position, by the Transport Agency, where it can’t come up with a good decision

In short, the whole of the Regional Council seemed to be on the side of the seven presenters who were against the flyover – except for Fran Wilde. It was in the early 1990s, when she was mayor of Wellington, that her city council allowed a supermarket to be built in the unique viewshaft at the northern end of Cambridge Terrace. Twenty years later, she is presiding over a decision to allow a long concrete bridge to destroy the environment at the other end of Cambridge Terrace.

The slogan of the Regional Council is:
Promotes Quality of Life by ensuring our environment is protected.
Yeah right.


  1. Chris Laidlaw, 2. November 2011, 13:25

    Fair comment. We jumped the gun by not having a full council debate on this and a number of councillors – me included – were unhappy with, in particular, the way that this became a “use it or lose it” exercise before the wider community had had a chance to look at the options round the basin in the context of the transport “spine” study that we are about to embark on.

    Chris Laidlaw

  2. Paula Warren, 2. November 2011, 14:13

    I agree with Chris Laidlaw that the council ran the wrong process, and needs to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But I do have some sympathy for them – they were being pushed by NZTA to make a choice between the wrong options. The leap from the Ngauranga to Airport Plan to a huge flyover wasn’t justified, but NZTA seem fixated by big roads at the moment – something they will hopefully grow out of the way small children grow out of a fixation with trucks in sandpits. Instead of just big road options, there should have been more work on traffic management options, and a recognition that we shouldn’t be making final decisions until we have completed the Wellington bus review and the spine study.

  3. Judith Aitken, 2. November 2011, 15:12

    The delegation of such a critical decision to a committee proved seriously unsatisfactory, and without success I had questioned it well before yesterday’s Council meeting. However, it is not fair to dump on Fran – her views were cogently expressed and had been well rehearsed over past months.

    Sorry to sound so prissy, but at the end of the day all councillors ( the writer included), whether committee members with voting rights or not, have an obligation to ensure that we have a good grip on the rules for deliberation and decision. If those rules don’t permit the kind of debate and discussion of options by the full Council, now so self evidently desirable to everyone , then we ourselves have to take that hit. Crs Bruce and Ponter represented well the views of many Wellingtonians, and, as committee members voted accordingly. Fran represented a different set of views, and whatever else our rules fail to do, they do at least allow for differences in opinion and vision.

    All is not lost, of course, but it is a real pain.

  4. Peter Brooks, 2. November 2011, 18:39

    Surely that decision of the small standing committee of the GWRC cannot be allowed to stand – too many councillors who were not involved, and some who were, are not happy with the outcome. It cannot be said to represent the views of the full council.

    It might well be embarrassing for the council to go back to NZTA and say we wish to withdraw that submission because we want to look more carefully and thoroughly into your proposals. Such embarrassment is nothing compared to the shame of allowing views to be ascribed to the GWRC which may well not be an accurate reflection of the majority view.

    The Chair cannot brush this issue aside as a minor slip-up in procedure. What has been done can be undone. Things have to be put right, the submission withdrawn and the full GWRC given the opportunity to consider and debate the project in the light of public submissions which should be released now by NZTA.

  5. Elaine, 2. November 2011, 22:20

    Phil O’Reilly, head of Business NZ, spoke on Radio NZ about a survey that Deloittes did for their organisation. The survey found that the Government did not have any infrastructure Plan and had no process to establish priorities. If National Party supporters do not believe the Govt knows what it is doing regarding our roads, then the Regional Council should not be supporting projects that are only promoted by blackmail and not by established overall benefit.

  6. Mary Munro, 3. November 2011, 11:36

    I agree with Peter Brooks. The GWRC has got this one wrong – the process and the decision – and should fess up.

  7. Kent Duston, 3. November 2011, 13:07

    Chris Laidlaw and Judith Aitken – you both seem to want to wring your hands over this issue and express regret that the process was flawed, without actually taking any responsibility for the outcome, which is opposed by a majority of the people who voted you in.

    If you’re unable to represent the interests of Wellingtonians on a crucial issue that may well blight our city by destroying the atmosphere of the Basin Reserve, then you might want to consider whether you should continue as Councillors. We pay you to achieve outcomes as our representatives, not to lament the state of the GWRC’s committee process whilst losing every vote around the Council table.

  8. Sridhar, 3. November 2011, 14:19

    I agree with Kent. If Chris, Judith, Nigel, Barbara and Prue had voted against the submission along with Paul and Daran, that would have made it 7 votes against and would have been enough to stop the submission. At the end of the day, some councillors have said something and done something else. Those who elected them should think twice in the next elections. As for Fran Wilde, she should be dumped by electors the same way her protege Kerry Prendergast was.

  9. Elaine, 4. November 2011, 10:56

    Exactly Sridhar, there will be a lot of electoral water under the ‘bridge’ before this thing comes to pass.

  10. Sridhar, 8. November 2011, 13:20

    So, has the Regional Council told us who are the councillors who voted in favour? Not that I am trying to witch hunt. But voters have the right to know who walk their talk.

  11. uke, 12. November 2011, 9:16

    Agree with Kent. This decision will come back to haunt those councillors who supported -overtly or tacitly- this flyover abomination. Roll around next election. Goodbye Fran, Chris, Judith et al.