City Watch #5

Our latest round up of recent news and events around Wellington. If you think we’ve missed anything or having any tip offs or information please contact us.

In a huge blow to Celia Wade-Brown’s vision for public transport, the cost of a light rail system for Wellington has skyrocketed to nearly a billion dollars following the release of a detailed business case. She now concedes it looks unrealistic in the near future. It will be interesting to see how her fellow Green and regional council colleague Paul Bruce responds. It now looks like she’s shifted focus to buses.

Tawa residents are complaining about living in a smellier place than usual after a long hot summer and lack of wind has seen its local dump become even more smelly.

Plans for a purpose-built pavilion at the Basin Reserve (see picture below) to help ease the visual impact of a new flyover have been unveiled today as the NZ Transport Agency officially lodge resource consent applications to build the $90 million flyover connecting Buckle St to the Mt Victoria tunnel. Opponents have blasted the move.

Wellington City Council’s resident fluoride-truther Byran Pepperell says that when the recently approved rates increase is broken into its component sectors of commercial and residential, the home owner will be getting something closer to a 4%  increase in the rates bill.

The “hounding” of pedestrians by beggars for spare change has led to WCC to soon install charity boxes around the City. So naturally the Dominion Post and local businesses like Rex Royale reduce those on the streets to being “opportunistic” based on their appearances and accompany the story with a picture of now (reportedly) deceased man begging. Classy.

After causing a stink earlier this year, Positively Wellington Venues are busy trying to show they’re on to it and thriving as they put out a joint release with Westpac Stadium boasting that between them they’ve had 468,201 people through their doors in the first half of this year. The Stadium is ahead 13.5% on the same time last year and Positively Wellington Venues are up 14%.

Work is about to start on an initiative to develop a walking and cycling facility connecting the Hutt Valley and Wellington.

Fran Wilde and Celia Wade-Brown wont be losing any sleep after the MANA Newtown Branch slammed recent moves towards regional amalgamation, saying a referendum of Wellingtonians should have been held to find out whether they wanted change at all.

After releasing a comprehensive mayoral manifesto last week, Jack Yan has released a ten point economic plan for the city that he claims is in line with the demands of the city’s business sector.

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson believes that the City can’t rely on central government, local government, or business alone to ensure it remains vibrant. Instead a team approach led by “champions” is needed. It’s a good read, and nice to see innovative thinking coming from a local MP.

Wellington City Council wont be fined after it discharged millions of litres of shit-laden waste off Wellington’s south coast, because it was dealing with “a bit of a calamity”.

The Dominion Post asked local MPs what they like, don’t like and want from Wellington. Chris Finlayson’s responses are just as you’d expect.

The region’s four mayors and the regional council chair were asked two identical questions: What do we need to do to make great city? And what is holding us back? Many of the responses are predictable, and just show why we need one voice speaking for the region.

Wellington City Council staff are hunting a “phantom dumper” who has been pouring hundreds of litres of toxic material into the Karori drainage system.

A rare moment unity struck the city council after Councillors voted unanimously in favour of retaining the building by spending $43.7 million strengthening it- despite suggestions from some it may be time to question the century old building’s future.

The Wellingtonian’s latest editorial on the ongoing amalgamation debate is a good read.

The Great Wellington Regional Council is flogging off the 60 year cutting rights to its regional forests. The sale was “consulted” on through the 2012 – 22 Long Term Plan (LTP) process. And the GWFC resolved last December to sell the cutting rights. I’m willing to bet this would come a news to most residents.

Kapiti Coast District Council is likely to drop rubbish collection from its services after consultation in its draft annual plan.

Eastern Ward locals are concerned that a backroom deal could see the historic former Wellington Prison site fall into the hands of private developers after it closed last November after a 85-year history.

The Onslow-Western Ward is shaping up to be the most contested ward of 2013 with environmentalist Sridhar Ekambaram declaring his candidacy.

Affordable Wellington (aka Libertarianz) Northern Ward candidate Reagan Cutting once again slammed the Living Wage and WCC support of it saying “ratepayers can be sure that this is only the start of valueless runaway wage inflation spurring increased Council spending and eventually increased rates”. He then followed it up by calling the restoration of the Town Hall a “sickening waste of money at a time when we can least afford it.” Great soundbites there, buddy.

WCC CEO Kevin Lavery took part in a Stuff Live Chat about his new role and Wellington’s future. The transcript is here.

He then had a cry at a committee meeting as Councillors signed off on the annual plan and failed to keep Wellington’s rates increase to budget because of additional funding for Councillors’ pet projects.

Save the Basin took Kevin Lavery to task over his Basin flyover comments and that the “decision has been made” when in fact no decision at the time had been made, no resource consent been issued for a flyover, and no resource consent application has yet been lodged.

Police have told WCC Councillors that restricting entry to Wellington’s central city bars after 1am could be part of the “single biggest crime prevention opportunity” the city has seen in years.

Picture 7

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