City Watch #13

Our belated thirteenth round up of recent news and events around Wellington. If you think we’ve missed anything or have any information please contact us. Thanks to those who have been sending things in. Apologies for this post’s length!

Voting papers for the local government elections are should almost all have been sent, giving voters about three weeks to make their decisions. The papers must be returned – posted or hand delivered – in time to reach the relevant electoral officer by midday on 12 October. It wasn’t all smooth sailing.

High-profile human rights lawyer Michael Bott wants to fight some battles closer to home, after standing for Upper Hutt City Council. Mr Bott said he was motivated by calls for a Wellington-based super-city. “I don’t like the communities being frog-marched into becoming satellite suburbs.” The benefits of the Auckland super-city were yet to be seen, he said.

John Morrison is promising support for safer cycling routes and a new BMX track in a recent release, but has come under fire in the comments around his commitment to cycling and the fact that council had already approved the lease of land at Ian Galloway Park for the purposes of developing a BMX track on 15 August 2012. Can we add this to the list of things Morrison is claiming credit for?

Wellington’s mayoral candidates’ opinions are varied and divided when it comes to addressing homelessness and poverty issues in the capital.

Cyclists have labeled Wellington the worst place in the country to ride a bike, as a report reveals a “disproportionately high” number of them are being killed or seriously injured. The region’s policy-makers have a goal of no more than 110 cyclist “casualties” a year on our roads. But a report issued by the Greater Wellington Regional Council shows the mark was overshot last year, with 125 incidents.

They are plastered all over the city, but a media expert reckons the mayoral hopefuls’ billboards say a whole load of nothing. Wade-Brown’s was judged best, because it gave reasons to vote for her (below).

Wellington Mayoral candidate Jack Yan believes the Wellington City Council needs to be more transparent。“Parking is shaping up to be a big issue at this year’s election. As others have found out, the Council was not releasing information regarding its enforcement of parking, attempting to use the commercial sensitivity clause of Official Information legislation.

In the year that New Zealand marks 120 years since women won the vote, the number of women vying for local body seats is stagnating. Nationally, only 30% of candidates are women, a number that has been the same since 2004 after dropping from a high of 32% in 2001.

A stretch of Wellington sea wall ripped away by a storm in June is unlikely to be fixed any time soon – but could be part of grand designs next year. A 50-metre chunk of the popular Island Bay sea wall was gouged away by raging seas on June 21, leaving concrete strewn across the beach and road.

The Regional Transport Committee (RTC) has agreed to push forward the Transmission Gully Highway and Porirua Link Roads projects in a variation to the Wellington Regional Land Transport Programme.

Wellington’s longest running professional theatre, Downstage, will close its doors for good at the end of the week after a decision by Creative New Zealand to stop funding it next year. The theatre had presented shows for 50 years. Wellington City Council is rightly sad.

Once the campaign trail is over, the hard work will start for new appointees to councils around New Zealand. But at least they’ll be rewarded for it – those who make it on to Wellington City Council will pocket a base salary of $76,600, while the mayor will get $158,300 a year.

Irene van Dyk has thrown her support in behind Mayoral candidate John Morrison

Outlawing public drunkenness in Wellington would be practical and effective, says Sara Tucker. The capital’s new Local Alcohol Policy states that Wellington City Council will consider further a proposal from Hospitality New Zealand to re- introduce the offence of being drunk in public.

Wellingtonians are losing faith in the ability of the city council to make decisions in the best interest of the city.

The marked drop in ratepayer satisfaction of Wellington City Council should be all the incentive people need to get out and vote in the local election, says Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce CEO Raewyn Bleakley.

John Morrison finally got some good press, this time with a puff piece in an Auckland paper.

The Wellington City Council’s newly upgraded Newtown Park Apartments – designed by local architects Studio Pacific Architecture – have won the top residential award in the 2013 Resene Total Colour Awards, as well as taking out the Nightingale Maestro Award.

Nineteen individuals, organisations and groups have responded to the call for alternative applications regarding local government reorganisation in Wairarapa and Wellington.

The to-ing and fro-ing by Wellington City Council as it has struggled to devise a local alcohol policy underscores just how difficult it is to find solutions to New Zealand’s woeful binge-drinking culture.

Late-night drinkers will be ejected en masse on to the streets of Wellington at 4am despite a last-minute plea to the Government by mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

DomPost readers may be surprised this morning to find that the paper gives top marks to Mayor Celia Wade-Brown in a recent mayoral debate at Massey University. Past reports of city council affairs in the DomPost have sometimes seemed to be positioning the mayor in a less than favourable light. But things have changed this morning.

The Wellington City Council made big decisions recently – on climate change, and on rules which will try to control drinking. The climate change debate seems to have been uncontroversial – the council issued a press release summarising what had been decided. Not so the control of alcohol. Though a new management plan was finalised, no details of the final decision have yet been released by the council’s information people.

Bikes and skateboards, rollerblades, scooters and pedestrians will take over Dixon and Lower Cuba Streets as part of Wellington’s – and the country’s – inaugural Open Street Sunday on 22 September

The region’s residents do not want one super-city, argues Roger Styles.

The state of Wairarapa’s underperforming train line has been described as “a tragedy”. The line, between Masterton and Wellington, recorded just 78 per cent punctuality in the 2012-13 financial year, according to a Greater Wellington Regional Council report.

Phil Howison and Reagan Cutting, candidates for the Onslow-Western and Northern Wards of the Wellington City Council, have released a policy statement on behalf of Affordable Wellington on the role of suburban centres.

Even Wellington city councillors aren’t safe from the parking police, with Paul Eagle saying parking management should be brought back in house after he was pinged with a $40 fine. The Dominion gave their verdict on the situation. Meanwhile the Mayor Wellington City reminded people that parking fees are essential to the growth of the city. Wellingtonians are forking out more than ever to pay for parking in the city.

The Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce sent a questionnaire to all candidates standing in the 2013 Wellington City Council election. The responses are here.

Wellington Airport needs to grow its business in the immediate term, says mayoral candidate Jack Yan, but long-term, the solution lies in Paraparaumu.

Among an irreverent hubbub of heckling, hilarity and humming, a political meeting broke out in Wellington’s Aro Valley. More than 150 people packed the Aro Valley Community Centre last night to hear from candidates for Wellington’s mayoralty, the Lambton ward, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

South coast residents have pooh-poohed claims that current measures deal effectively with the foul-smelling effluent released into Houghton Bay. Runoff from an old landfill trickles down into the stormwater system through cracks and misfitting joints in pipes. This leached material mixes with stormwater and is released into the bay.

MANA candidate for Wellington Regional Council, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati would push for a “maximum salary” for Councillors and senior-management staff, as well as a minimum “living-wage” to increase pay for low-paid staff.

The council will launch an online store in coming weeks where people will be able to download smartphone and tablet computer applications, or apps, that showcase anything uniquely Wellington. It is thought to be the first council-developed app store in the country.

An Upper Hutt mayoral candidate has compared the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s pro super-city chairwoman Fran Wilde to Robert Mugabe. Businessman Alan Jefferies, 62, is opposing any move towards a Wellington-based super-city, which he said would ”hijack” Upper Hutt.

Daryl Cockburn and Neil Douglas believe the time for light rail in Wellington is now. It could provide the arterial high capacity, high quality and rapid southern public transport connection that Wellington needs.

Wellington City Council has begun posting more information online about the hygiene standards of city cafes and restaurants in a bid to increase transparency. A new section on the council website went live last night, showing the latest food grading of all 1300 eateries in the capital.

The Kelburn candidates’ meeting on Sunday, September 22, will have the same cast of 17 characters (six mayoral candidates and 11 Lambton ward candidates) as at previous meet-the-candidates meetings, but one more language. Kelburn Progressive Association has decided to ensure that members of the deaf community can participate fully in the local body elections by engaging sign language interpreters to translate during the evening.

A candidates gathering at Paekakariki saw a few political novices – but it was all experience as potential regional councillors took the floor. More coverage here.

Stop press, Rosemary McLeod is bored by the local elections. I’m bored by her in general.

Capital and Coast District Health Board’s elected members will all finish their term this year. Some won’t be coming back, and others have put up their hands to take on one of the country’s most challenging health boards. Jim Chipp takes a look at how the last three years have gone for the health board.

Jim Chipp also examined the Wellington Regional Council’s hits and misses over the past three years, and looks at the contenders for the election.

Kapiti Coast District Council’s handling of controversial issues such as water metering, the expressway and the Coastlands Aquatic Centre may force a change of leadership this election.

A battle of the generations is looming in Lower Hutt’s northern ward, with more than 50 years between two of the candidates. Leole Malama, 22, is squaring off against seven-term Hutt City Council veteran Angus Finlayson.

The list of reasons for opposing the Basin flyover got bigger when the Environmental Protection Agency published all 212 submissions to the board of inquiry which will be making the final decision.

It’s called Ask Away, and that’s what the designer of a local body election website forum wants prospective voters to do, by putting questions to the six Wellington mayoral candidates.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown election billboard

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