Wellington Scoop

Secrecy is not the answer – six people meet to plan Basin changes

by Lindsay Shelton
A secretive six-member group has made a move to decide on the next stage of roading changes at the Basin Reserve. But it’s indefensible that a majority of the group’s six members were supporters of the twice-rejected flyover plan.

At yesterday’s regional council meeting, three councillors sought an integrated approach to deciding on at-grade roading improvements around the Basin. Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley were supported by Barbara Donaldson. But Paul Swain refused. He said that a small governance group of himself, Fran Wilde, Celia Wade Brown and Andy Foster, plus two Transport Agency staffers, would make the decision, and would then report back.

Speaking on Radio New Zealand yesterday morning, Andy Foster (the city council’s transport committee chair, who voted in favour of the flyover) confirmed that the group has had its first meeting. He said it was “mapping a time frame and looking for alternatives.”

The group doesn’t have to look far.

Richard Reid’s Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (BRREO) has been accepted by the Transport Agency as offering significant savings in travel times and immediate benefits to the neighbourhood, at less than five per cent of the cost of the flyover. As Reid said last month:

“In planning terms, BRREO is years ahead of NZTA and the councils in its integrated transport and urban vision for the city. BRREO is the only practicable and attractive option worth adopting. It makes sense that we are given the opportunity to continue to develop BRREO for the benefit of Wellingtonians and the wider Wellington region.”

Reid is one of several experts who have offered to assist with the decision-making process, and who should not be shut out. The Architectural Centre, one of the key opponents of the flyover, has also offered to participate. Its president Christine McCarthy says that it

“… looks forward to working productively with NZTA to pro-actively address urban design and transport issues around the Basin Reserve. This is an area of the city that desperately needs smart thinking and large amounts of TLC. The surrounding areas of the Basin, in particular, have suffered neglect for far too long. We are keen to be in the conversations with NZTA and the councils regarding the Basin’s future. NZTA must improve its processes in order to properly understand and facilitate community needs. The answer to the Basin will not simply be a technical solution.”

There’s a similar offer from Tim Jones of the Save the Basin campaign:

“If central and local government agencies are ready to engage in open, constructive discussion, then Save the Basin will be keen to play its part.”

Sustainable transport advocates must also be involved, so they can ensure that traffic changes include measures such as reducing the numbers of single occupancy cars and taxis and children (who could walk) being dropped off at local schools.

The huge virtues of public decision-making were evident to all during the hearings of the Board of Inquiry and the High Court, which exposed all the faults of the flyover plan that councillors and the Transport Agency had been foolishly pushing for so many years. They had insisted there could be only once choice at the Basin. But they were wrong.

So there should be no question as to whether these same people are willing to accept open discussion and constructive participation. They must not insist on working in secret.

One day after this article was published, the transport planners announced they would work with the community. But they didn’t mention working with the professionals who have already developed new plans for the Basin.


  1. Russell Tregonning, 10. September 2015, 10:12

    FIT Wellington ( Fair, Intelligent Transport), a group including engineers, policy analysts, climate and health professionals with walking and cycling advocates, is also keen to participate. At presentations to Greater Wellington’s (GW) transport committee this week, they put forward their proposals for fast affordable light rail public transport to relieve congestion in the city. Their proposed routes avoid the Basin thereby reducing congestion there. They made their offer to GW to be involved in their transport deliberations.

  2. Save The Basin, 10. September 2015, 10:21

    NZTA’s concept of proceeding to make limited optimisation improvements soon is worthwhile. At the Basin, such an approach is entirely compatible with the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (BRREO) or a development thereof. BRREO would be far cheaper and quicker to implement than any other option at the Basin, and it doesn’t foreclose other options if they later prove to be needed. We agree with the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association call for a detailed and fair-minded reconsideration of the BRREO proposal.

  3. City Lad, 10. September 2015, 10:48

    Fran Wilde, Andy Foster and Paul Swain remain bitter and upset that sensible citizens of Wellington won game set and match against a flyover. These three losers should quit before they do more damage.

  4. southcoaster, 10. September 2015, 12:03

    It’s appalling that some of the people who got us into this mess, and wasted $12m in the process, are now sitting round the table for round 2. They must learn from their mistakes and do it properly this time, once and for all. Ignore the wishes of the community and other interest groups at their peril. Especially leading up to an election year.

  5. Island Bay Rules, 10. September 2015, 12:33

    We could always ask Jerry to close the entrance to Government House and use the back entrance. Or better still, open up that stagnant bus stop outside St. Marks School after 4:00 pm for an early opportunity to separate north and south bound traffic.

  6. Wellington Commuter, 10. September 2015, 13:46

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)

  7. Councillor Helene Ritchie, 10. September 2015, 17:31

    First of all, congratulations to those of the public who have already put in so much of their own time, energy, time, talent, intellect, and resources, to ultimately win the right outcome.

    Well….I would have thought that Wellington City Council should first examine, discuss and debate this question….and then instruct its “representatives” who seem to be part of the Secret Six. This is primarily a Wellington City issue. What will our two “representatives” contribute…only their own personal opinion? This issue is not for a (these) few individuals to decide….there are many ways to skin this cat. Innovative thinking has to come to the fore, not same old, same old. And, those who have expressed an interest already need to be involved as does the wider Wellington community.

  8. J Chris Horne, 10. September 2015, 21:15

    How comforting it is that a cosy cabal of six want to decide what roading changes we Wellingtonians need around our Basin Reserve. Given the cabal’s track-record, we can expect that they will be keen to ignore the public, including several sustainable-transport advocates who are keen to be involved.

    Congratulations to Regional Councillors Bruce, Kedgley and Donaldson for their wisdom, and foresight, in seeking an integrated approach to designing at-grade roading improvements around the Basin. Why are the other regional councillors so intent on avoiding an integrated approach?

    When will all regional councillors realise that Richard Reid’s Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option, perhaps with modifications, is what the city, and region, need?

    Architectural Centre President Christine McCarthy is spot-on when she says: “This is an area of the city that desperately needs smart thinking and lots of TLC.” And Save the Basin’s Tim Jones is keen for his group to have open, constructive discussions with central and local government agencies.

  9. Michael Gibson, 10. September 2015, 21:17

    Helene – what is the status of this group? If it is not a Committee of the Council I wouldn’t think there is anything to worry about.

  10. Traveller, 10. September 2015, 21:22

    Helene: when does the Council meet to decide how Celia and Andy should be voting, on their behalf? Or has some authority already been delegated to them, and if so when?

  11. City Lad, 11. September 2015, 7:40

    Mayor Wade-Brown cannot bypass this one. Her leadership is not flying-over the crossbar. And Councillor Foster should apply for full-time employment at NZTA. Better than part-time.

  12. Elaine Hampton, 11. September 2015, 10:33

    What an insult to Wellington. Celia neutralised, Fran out-voted, and Andy ‘I have to vote for the flyover because NZTA will be very upset.’ Paul Swain! and two NZTA staffers! State Highway 1 runs through the Basin, that makes NZTA powerful in Wellington. How much more of our money are they going to waste?

  13. Newtown, 11. September 2015, 13:37

    We need strong leaders like Annette King and Grant Robertson to sort out Wellington and replace the current spineless clowns. ~$12m is wasted already, now what? And why is Fran spooking around still, didn’t she resign since her Flyover failed?

  14. John L, 12. September 2015, 7:24

    “Newtown:” you are incorrect, as those opposition MPs are already in a place of as much power as they will ever have – but they do nothing. Your situation is that we have a shadow govt spending big time on things we don’t need, to increase profits from borrowing (and to maintain power). Do you still imagine they work for you? The people who created these problems can’t fix them.
    Nothing needs to be done at the Basin.