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Nick Leggett’s slap down

The mayor of Porirua has decided, unwisely, to be his own publicist. Unfortunately for him, the news release which he sent us last night (and which we published unedited) shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Nick Leggett’s report [1] tells us that he moved a resolution at yesterday’s meeting of the Regional Transport Committee and as a result the committee “slapped down” a decision of the Wellington City Council. (The pre-Christmas decision, by eight votes to seven, resolved to explore alternatives to the Basin Reserve flyover.)

He next tells us how the committee achieved its slap down:

“By resolving its support for grade separation and a bridge over the Basin Reserve.” This raises some questions. In what way was this support resolved? What bridge over the Basin Reserve is he thinking about? Why does he believe that the mayors of Porirua and Upper Hutt (Wayne Guppy seconded his resolution) must contradict a majority decision of elected Wellington councillors?

Porirua’s young leader explains that the slap down, supported (one assumes) by an unspecified number of regional transport committee members including Fran Wilde, will ‘elevate’ the Basin project to one of ‘regional importance.’ A downward elevation – he’s forgotten that the government has categorised it as part of a road of national importance. But he’s worried about Hutt and Porirua people getting to the airport:

“Movement from SH1 through the Wellington CBD to the Airport, Hospital and Eastern Suburbs is significant for residents of the Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti and North Wellington”

No one would disagree with that. But then he states that the bridge (the Transport Agency’s flyover) is “the only immediate option.” Beware, Nick Leggett! If you’re planning to take the flyover to get to the airport or to the eastern suburbs, you’re in for a dreadful surprise. Because the flyover, if it’s built, will carry traffic in the opposite direction, away from the airport and away from the eastern suburbs. You’ll have a terrible accident if you try to use it to drive east.

Mr Leggett, one of the country’s youngest mayors, doesn’t acknowledge that SH1 traffic through the Wellington CBD to the airport and the eastern suburbs will not in any way by helped by spending $90m on a flyover. All the east-bound traffic will continue to be funnelled through the stop-start Vivian Street, and will have to queue up to get through the ancient Mt Victoria Tunnel. Nevertheless he thinks the flyover will somehow help him to get to the airport. And he makes it clear that if he was a Wellington city councillor he would have voted against the decision to explore other options. His final sentence is unfortunate. Like the rest of his news release, it seems to have been dashed off without any checking. He writes:

“It’s an irresponsible position when such a significant project that can alleviate congestion for so many Wellington residents.” Work that one out.

Advice to Nick Leggett. Get an experienced writer to create your next news release. If you insist on being your own publicist, check your facts before you start writing.

And a question for Andy Foster and the Wellington City Council group who are exploring alternatives to the flyover [2] – how does it feel to have been slapped down by Nick Leggett and Wayne Guppy?