Wellington Scoop

Action man – Justin Lester defines what needs to be done in Wellington

Wellington’s new deputy mayor Justin Lester has some specific ideas about what the city council should do in the next three years.

He defined them during the election campaign when he wrote an article for WCC Watch saying that Wellington needs “less talk and more action.”

In his first three years as a councillor, he said, he’d learned about where the council falls down and what needs to be done to improve decision making processes and get things done.

WCC has too many policies and strategies sitting idle.
Too many people, elected representatives and WCC employees, have been focused on policy review and creation, but not achieving milestones.
Too many Councillors are focused on the existing forward programme and responding to it, rather than prioritising what action is actually important in order to enhance the city.
While debate and democratic participation is absolutely essential, too many of our meetings are dominated by hyperbole and grandstanding. Less talk and more action is required.
What Wellington needs most is three years of implementation, finishing projects and tidying up loose ends. We talk, for example, about being open for business, but you still can’t submit a building consent on-line. We have some excellent cycling proposals. But there’s currently no funding to roll them out. . . .

Justin Lester says Wellington needs “a shot in the arm” by prioritising the implementation of council priorities and getting on with delivering them, to encourage more people to come here to invest, work, live and spend. To help encourage this, he aimed to focus on:

Ensuring an internationally significant Film Museum is built in Wellington that will transform Wellington as a tourism destination…The economic benefit would be similar to having WoW on for 12 months of the year.

Proposing a 2 year moratorium on development contributions for new commercial and residential building projects to help reinvigorate the moribund construction sector.

Creating a city cycling network by doubling our investment in cycling. We have lots of excellent cycling initiatives proposed, I want to see them put in place…

Enhancing our waterfront offering further by continuing on the excellent diving platform and creating more thrill-seeking and recreation opportunities. This could include a new children’s playground, encouraging more people into the water with flying foxes, slack lines across the water and water-based activities.

Promoting a city-wide competition to create a new signature event for the Wellington calendar. The selection process could mirror that undertaken for the Wellington (.. Away) sign that replaced the ‘Wellywood’ proposal. Wellington has plenty of smart minds, use them and involve them.

Four of the five items on his list are completely within the council’s control. Let’s judge him on the speed with which cycleway plans are announced and implemented, how quickly a city-wide competition is launched, and whether new waterfront attractions are in place for summer. Three out of five in his first year as deputy mayor would be a good score.

A new sustainable deputy mayor


  1. Pauline, 21. October 2013, 16:02

    Well said Justin and good luck in your new position. With some of the “grandstanders” now gone, it should be a much happier and less divisive council.
    A little “deja vu” with the suggestion of a flying fox – back in November 2002 the plan prepared by Rachel Hughes (one of five finalists for designing Waitangi Park) was the most popular and included a “flying fox.” Perhaps it could be could be created there, as the play area is very small and not over the harbour. Let’s cater for the young children and leave the Diving Platform for the big kids. If any doubt, I recommend a trip to Avalon Park in Lower Hutt which has a magnificent play area which includes a flying fox.

  2. lindsay, 21. October 2013, 16:20

    And here’s what Justin Lester said in August last year about the proposal for a flyover alongside the Basin Reserve;
    I don’t believe a flyover is appropriate for this area, largely because of the ongoing visual impact it will have and will continue to oppose it strongly for this reason. It’s my opinion that it would be a backwards step not only for the area, but also the city generally because of wider implications about what is acceptable design. I believe the decision will be regretted if it does go ahead.

  3. Sridhar Ekambaram, 25. October 2013, 14:10

    Excellent Justin! The new council has a right mixture of experience, dynamism and new faces and I feel confident it will be easier to get this decided and implemented.

    I look forward to seeing Justin in action (actually the entire new council).