Wellington Scoop

Yes or no? What’s your opinion?

It’s a time when we all need to have opinions about decisions being made by our elected city councillors. Not just their curious support for the “coolest little” brand at the same time as they’ve announced the “middle of the middle” slogan. There’s much more being decided by our elected representatives, all of whom will be up for re-election next year.

Yesterday, councillors resisted pressure to spend $6.9million on a temporary conference centre. Iona Pannett led the successful campaign against the big spending, and got majority support for expenditure of only $875,000. Ngaire Best moved an unsuccessful amendment to spend the larger amount. It was a narrow vote: 7 to 6.

Pressure to spend the $6.9million comes from an organisation only recently set up by the council – Positively Wellington Venues which is chaired by former councillor Chris Parkin (owner of the Museum Hotel.) It’s worried about what to do while the Town Hall is closed for earthquake strengthening, and it wants the council to commit the big amount to convert the TSB Arena and Shed 6 into a temporary conference centre.

Yesterday’s decision to reject their $6.9million recommendation was taken at a meeting of the strategy and policy committee. The subject will be reconsidered by the full council next week. The DomPost reports that some councillors could change their minds. Which leaves just a few days to tell councillors that we don’t want $6m added to their spending budget.

There’s likely to be an equally heated debate when councillors discuss the future of council-controlled organisations – most interestingly, Wellington Waterfront Ltd. There’ve been two attempts to bring control of waterfront development in house. Neither has succeeded. Things could be different this time. Is it wise for the council to pay the cost of separate staff and separate offices and separate boards, when it’s already making the decisions? The subject is to be debated on November 8.

Another waterfront issue is on the list of topics on which the council is formally seeking the public’s opinions. Its unpopular plans for North Kumutoto were stymied when the Environment Court ruled that there could be only two new buildings, instead of the three that it wanted for the area. The revised design brief is now open for public input. Which gives a brief window of opportunity for waterfront lobbyists to re-state their case for even fewer buildings and more open space.

The future of the town belt is another subject on which the council is seeking public comment. Is the council really serious about protecting it? Councillor Ritchie says

“We are instructing that the 1873 Deed, which sets out how the Council was to manage the land, be retained despite the fact that it is written in quaint but archaic language. We are also instructing that the original intent of the 1841 Town Belt be acknowledged in the new legislation.”

Which all sounds most convincing. But can they protect it from the Transport Agency’s Hataitai motorway?

As for the most important decision of all. The DomPost this week reviewed possible candidates for next year’s local elections. Without shedding any light except, for sure, Mayor Wade-Brown confirmed she’ll be running again. She says she’ll stand on her record. She deserves another term.

UPDATE: They decided to spend the $6.9million …


  1. Curtis Nixon, 21. October 2012, 13:23

    Shed 6 is totally inappropriate for conversion into a conference space. Not only are the pilings it’s sitting on under-strength for surviving a big earthquake but the lack of existing facilities (there are no toilets, just one cold water tap for the whole shed 6) means a total fitout would need to be done, plumbing, power, the works. What a waste! This money would be lost to WCC when they move back out, money put into an unsafe structure, money that would buy a whole, brand-new purpose-built facility on a different site. Plus when the National government merges WCC into a super-city, which they will, the whole question of headquarters of the new super-council will probably mean a new building somewhere else, probably Lower Hutt as it is the most central for the whole Wellington region, and a LOT cheaper than Wellington CBD.

  2. TJ, 21. October 2012, 18:41

    Appreciation to those councillors who are voting in the ratepayers’ best interest. I think most of Wellington is against fiscal irresponsibility, certainly most have had a guts full.
    Another “supercity”, like Auckland’s monstrosity of unaccountability, is not desired.
    We should fire all the councillors who voted for increased spending on things we don’t need and want as they clearly are not working for us.

  3. Sridhar, 22. October 2012, 10:39

    @TJ, good idea to get rid of the big spending councillors. I am especially annoyed at the councillors who voted for aquatics facilities and also those who want big money to be spent on the Basin flyover with scant regard to public opinion.