Wellington Scoop

Post-earthquake issues: “no such thing as business as usual,” says Chris Laidlaw

News Release from Greater Wellington Regional Council
There is no such thing as business as usual in Wellington following the November earthquake, says Regional Council Chair Chris Laidlaw.

“The earthquake has forced us to re-think our vulnerability and big questions remain for the region about how we can get through the next shake, storm or flood. We want to address some of those questions with the public through consultation on our Annual Plan, which starts now.

“Issues it covers include how to ensure the key flood protection, water supply and transport assets are resilient in the face of damage from natural events, and how to minimise the cost to ratepayers of making essential investments in the region that will protect us in the future.

“We are also talking to the government about a collaborative approach to immediate priorities. We have to. We’ve been shaken out of the lifestyle we’ve taken for granted. The extent of the damage to the city and beyond has gradually unfolded and the bill is growing,” says Chris Laidlaw.

Businesses have closed or been disrupted and the lives of some people continue to be significantly affected.

Councillor Laidlaw says the public can no longer afford to be apathetic about local and regional issues. Few people turn out for local body elections, fewer still participate in consultation. Many people don’t seem to care, but that has to change and now is the time.

“More than ever we need to hear the public’s voice as we start the process of rebuilding and strengthening our region. The decisions we make today – both at local and regional levels – will directly affect the shape of Wellington and help us manage the impact of another significant shake, flood or storm.”

Consultation on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Annual Plan 2017/2018 opens today.

“It focuses on strengthening the Wellington region’s ability to cope with natural hazards, while providing a quality natural environment and an improved public transport system. It’s a step towards responding to adversity. And by keeping the rates increase to 5.6 per cent and public transport fares unchanged, we’re trying to take pressure off the regional community,” says Chris Laidlaw.

GWRC has four priorities for 2017/2018:

• Investing in resilient regional infrastructure

• Making sure we can cope in emergencies

• Growing public transport patronage

• Keeping our environment clean

The regional council is proposing a rates increase of 5.6 percent, down from 9.3 percent proposed in the 10 Year Plan 2015-25. The 5.6 percent increase equates to $28 for an average household, or 54 cents per week.

“We were already working on improving the region’s ability to respond to natural hazards. We are bringing some of that work forward, such as improving flood protection for the most at-risk communities.”

Councillor Laidlaw says much of the increase is made up of committed projects that the regional community has already strongly supported. This includes the council’s continuing programme of investment in regional transport infrastructure.

“More than ever, the public needs to get involved. We need to build a consensus around the way forward. This is the people’s region and their place and we want it to be one that serves the community well and will endure.”

Greater Wellington Regional Councillors approved the consultation document at its 2 March meeting, with public consultation set to begin on 16 March.


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  1. Mary M, 16. March 2017, 17:09

    The Regional Council are using the earthquake as an excuse to raise rates.

  2. Hel, 16. March 2017, 20:23

    Mary you are being unfair after all it is a massive reduction from the near 10% lolly grab last year.

  3. Casey, 16. March 2017, 20:47

    From an organization that puts the passenger bus service out to tender, yet is unable to vet the offers, so instead is employing 6 legal firms costing ratepayers $7 million to do it.

    Now they want to involve themselves with resilience issues without any expertise, but a bit late for their munted buildings.

    Time for this multi million dollar business to be run on a strictly business model with the councillors and management replaced with an appointed board.

    In spite of the ratepayers owning CentrePort, its management can’t even make the effort to keep us informed re progress with earthquake repairs. Four months on all I can see from a distance is a single earth moving machine working. Images and comments on their web site would be a cheap and simple means of communication. Derek Nind needs to do better, is what my old school masters would write.

  4. Mark Shanks, 17. March 2017, 8:17

    It’s business as usual for Mr Laidlaw and GWRC as they continue to draw their salary and since when has GWRC listened to ratepayers through the submission process? And I say again that GWRC have a conflict of interest in their mandate – economic development and environmental protection??

  5. Chris Laidlaw, 17. March 2017, 12:21

    Mary M says the regional council is using the earthquake to raise rates. That’s odd because before the earthquake the proposed rates rise was 9 percent. After the earthquake it is 5.6percent.

    Casey wants more information from Centreport. Reasonable point but it isn’t reasonable to conclude that nothing is happening. The port is back to full operational capacity except for the container wharf which is operating at a lower level but cannot be fully repaired until the insurance issues are resolved. The recovery has been little short of miraculous.

    Mark Shanks says we aren’t listening to submitters. I invite him to come along and give us a full submission during the hearings. I promise to listen carefully.

  6. Mark Shanks, 17. March 2017, 15:49

    Thank you Chris. I will make a submission.

  7. Casey, 19. March 2017, 16:38

    I didn’t write that nothing is happening at CentrePort, just that we the owning public are not being kept informed. We are not able to visit the site even in normal times due to operational safety requirements, so putting the information on the CentrePort web site would be a simple and cheap way of communicating. For the first time in 4 months we were able to read in the DomPost on Saturday what is going on, and see some images.

    The port belongs to the ratepayers, not the hired help. Understandably the web cams at the port are no longer operational.