The week that was; Golden Mile tinkering, developers circling, austerity measures, and pesky kids causing trouble

A cold and blustery week for the weather and not too much better for some local politicians who got themselves offside with the community and backtracked all over the place in what is assuredly a sign that election year is in full swing.

Earlier in the week what anyone with a logical mind could have told you, that the continued loss of car parks in the CBD coupled with the new weekend charges had slammed some local businesses.

Retail sales have halved on weekends for some on the Golden Mile after the introduction of Wellington’s weekend parking charges and public transport woes, despite statistics saying otherwise.

They show sales increased after  the charges were introduced but the feedback from retailers along Lambton Quay is that the increase has not been evenly spread.

At some outlets weekend sales plunged 50 per cent after parking charges came into force while others told Stuff they had seen no change in their sales.

Sales decrease by half for some stores on the Golden Mile after weekend parking and bus woes

A huge slap in the face for CBD retailers who are already facing higher rates along with the Council hell-bent on removing even more car parks under the guise of their latest “consultation.”

It was a move that was supported by the Mayor and Chris Calvi-Freeman but roundly seems to have backfired. Of course, neither politician is seen to be fronting the issue.

WREDA dragged itself into line on minimum wage this week after considerable criticism previously.

About 120 workers at Wellington City Council-owned venues are about to be paid a living wage.

The pay increase would come into effect on September 1, when the Living Wage increases from $20.55 an hour to $21.15.

Wellington Region Economic Development Agency (Wreda) chief executive Lance Walker made the announcement on Tuesday morning. It would affect about 120 casual staff, mostly at venues, and about 12 permanent staff.

Council-owned theatre employees to get paid living wage

It’s taken an embarrassingly long time for WREDA to catch up and no doubt the bad publicity and a call from city hall finally pushed them over the line.

Austerity measures appeared yesterday with the Mayor taking the opportunity to backtrack and grandstand at the same time by effectively killing off the Indoor Arena.

Councillors Nicola Young, Andy Foster and Iona Pannett put forward a series of amendments to the annual plan putting the indoor arena, snow leopards, the Museum of Conflict, the Marine Education centre and the Frank Kitts Park upgrade on the chopping block. 

But before their amendment could reach the floor  Mayor Justin Lester put forward his own, reversing his position of a few months ago and defunding the indoor arena for the next financial year.

City defunds Wellington’s indoor arena in last-ditch attempt to pare back budget

We think a good old fashioned eye rolling moment with an utterance of “whatever” should be made. Despite having the opportunity to cut up some other vanity projects the only two Councillors who voted against further measures were Nicola Young and Andy Foster.

Remove funding for the Marine Education Centre, Frank Kitts Park upgrade, zoo upgrade (snow leopards and lions), and the Museum of Conflict. 
FOR – Young, Foster. AGAINST – Lester, Calvert, Calvi-Freeman, Dawson, Day, Fitzsimons, Free, Gilberd, Lee, Marsh, Pannett, Sparrow, Woolf.

We think that all vanity projects should be dropped until the basics are sorted out. Infrastructure, resilience, that annoying Climate Change thingy, and the fact that Civic Square is now effectively closed.

Speaking of Civic Square, the vultures are already circling over the library site.

Developers are closing in on Wellington’s boarded up central library, seeing an opportunity to either list the building, or privatise it.

A major Wellington developer is calling on the council to sell its central library building to fund the cost of rebuilding or strengthening.

Developers eyeing up Wellington Library

Too soon? Perhaps. But then, rather like the days of Kerry Prendergast, Developers seem to be in charge in the city rather than the Council. Sweet deals left right and centre we hear, never mind that annoying tender process, and of course the bones of Shelly Bay that just keep on giving.

Stuff this week revealed two parcels of land that Taranaki Whānui was offered the first right of refusal to buy under its Treaty settlement were in iwi hands for moments before passing into the ownership of a private developer

In each instance Taranaki Whānui lost ownership of land – at Jackson St in Petone and King St in the Wellington suburb of Mount Cook – but put money into its struggling accounts.

It was revealed in May that PNBST had sold three of its four parcels of land at Shelly Bay. The purchase earlier soaked up about half of Taranaki Whanui’s $30m cash settlement. The three parcels then sold for $2m.

Unpaid invoices in cupboards – then the $4m surprise

Cars off the Golden Mile was back in the news, again, this week. You notice that as we get closer to the election the number of stories that are regurgitated seems to increase.

Buried in that article, however, was a reference to Bond Street as a shining example of what a car less street in the CBD could achieve.

There would also be changes to surrounding streets on the Golden Mile such as Mercer St and Bunny St, which could become pedestrian-only or a shared space for pedestrians and cars, Lester said.

A similar change was made several years ago to Bond St, which once connected Vivian St and Willis St but is now a pedestrian-friendly, dead-end road.

“Bond St is a great example,” Lester said.

“It was a funny little place, actually. It used to be a slip road, but it’s now been pedestrianised.”

Cars removed from Golden Mile within two years as part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving

Are there two Bond Streets in Wellington? Because as it happens, I was having lunch with a friend at the Fork and Brewer on Bond Street last Friday and my recollection is that there is about twenty meters of pedestrian area near the Willis end. It is highly-entertaining to watch cars try and navigate what is left of the street.

But I quibble. Some days I wonder if our vision for the Wellington CBD is more akin to the fabulous old New Zealand movie “The Quiet Earth.” Certainly on a Sunday you could be forgiven for thinking you’d managed to find your way onto set, particularly at the Northern end of Lambton Quay.

The Quiet Earth: A Documentary following the implementation of LGWM

Incidentally, it’s an excellent movie, and all you younger-folk out there should take the time to watch a kiwi classic.

Speaking of younger-folk, much media coverage this week of them having a crack at Council seats around and about the country. “Youthquake” possibly not the best term to be using in Wellington, but, we’ll let them off because it is an actual thing.

The president of the Vic Uni students association is leading a ‘youthquake’ as five leaders under 25 try to follow Chlöe Swarbrick into the halls of power, writes Peter McKenzie.

It wasn’t a conventional campaign launch. Someone’s laptop cycled through a Spotify playlist of grungy music. The oldest person present looked to be in their late 20s (at a stretch). Somebody had bought a few crates of Tui for the event with their allowance for course-related costs. They didn’t last long. Biggie, the candidate’s tiny bulldog, loped around slobbering over the attendees.

An hour after the event was due to start, people were called to sit down. Sitting on the carpeted floor, or perched on plush sofas, they watched as the candidate strode to centre stage: Tamatha Paul, the 22-year old President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA), and the newest candidate for Wellington City Council.

Echoing Chlöe Swarbrick, a ‘youthquake’ rumbles through Wellington’s political scene

Read those second two paragraphs. That will, literally, be a Council meeting in the next two decades.

Then, in a classic case of “And I would have got away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” Chris Calvi-Freeman walked into a propeller during a LGWM meeting in Miramar during the week.

A 17-year-old who put her hand up at a Wellington forum says a city councillor’s response was condescending.

At the Let’s Get Wellington Moving forum on Wednesday Steph Edlin asked Chris Calvi-Freeman why Wellingtonians should have faith in councillors to get it right with the $6.4 billion transport initiative.

But Edlin says Calvi-Freeman’s response – that he had been involved in transport governance since before she was “even a twinkle” – was condescending and a symptom of why young people didn’t feel they could participate in politics.

College head girl takes city councillor to task over ‘condescending’ response

Que social media pile-on and a rather bemused Chris Calvi-Freeman somewhat unsure of what he’d done, but gracious enough to offer an apology. The Mayor couldn’t remember what he’d said, and Sarah Free “didn’t think anything of Calvi-Freeman’s statements. Teri O’Neill, campaigning for an Eastern Ward seat, got a moment in the limelight while Diane Calvert and Paul Eagle were far more interested in the Mayor’s shoe choice.

The fun didn’t stop there though, Simon Woolf then saw fit to post one of his missives on Facebook. He slapped down “party politics” in the post and then endorsed Teri O’Neill, who is running under the Labour ticket. Then he offered a sage opinion of Chris Calvi-Freeman.

Can someone please lend Simon a mirror?

Last up, best dressed, the Greens announced their lineup of candidates for the election.

The Green Party has selected a mix of experienced and exciting new candidates for October’s local body elections in Wellington City. They are: Laurie Foon (Southern Ward), Thomas Nash (Wellington Constituency, Greater Wellington Regional Council), Richard McIntosh (Onslow-Western Ward), Iona Pannett (Lambton Ward), Sarah Free (Eastern Ward) and Sue Kedgley (Capital and Coast District Health Board.)

The Greens will campaign for a future for our children and their children with a promise to make Wellington one of the greenest cities in the world. This means working for everything from making the city zero carbon and zero waste with clean water and rich biodiversity to affordable housing, working buses, light rail, a completed cycle network, good walkways, a living wage as a minimum for all throughout the city, earthquake resilient buildings and buy local policies that support businesses in Wellington.

Greens announce six candidates for local elections in October

Ten points for getting every promise you could possibly want as a local politician into a single paragraph. We wish them all the very best. Oh, PS, Greens, it would be great if you could get some candidate bio pages up somewhere, we have no idea who a couple of these candidates are and couldn’t find much online.

That’s the week that was, we also note quite an uptick in social media activity over the last week. It looks like people are realising they need to start campaigning. Still no mayoral candidates, still an overwhelming lack of candidates across the board frankly.

2 thoughts on “The week that was; Golden Mile tinkering, developers circling, austerity measures, and pesky kids causing trouble

  1. Ha, ha: A fun read (as always) on Inside Welly. Well done. Just a few comments from me, if I may:

    The Golden Mile. It all depends who you talk to. The stats available to WCC from the Eftpos system appear to show a slight increase in retail sales, but I’m sure it’s up and down by the week depending on the weather and who has sales on. Some retail business models appear to be increasingly unviable – you hear so many people talking about moving almost entirely to internet purchases, and we’ve all had variable experiences in stores, ranging from the above & beyond to the downright off-putting. The bus services changes may also have an influence, but I won’t pile onto this in terms of weekend visits to town as some suburbs actually have better weekend services than they did previously.

    Indoor arena. Everyone on council was happy to remove this budget item from the 2019/20 annual plan, as nothing was going to be spent that year anyway, given that senior staff are busy trying to resolve the library situation and plan a way forward for civic square. So, the arena is gone for now but not forgotten, as Swampy Marsh remarked.

    “Despite having the opportunity to cut up some other vanity projects the only two Councillors who voted against further measures were Nicola Young and Andy Foster.”: Not sure if you’ve explained yourself clearly here. The list of other things to cut, as proposed by Andy Foster, was rejected by the majority of councillors as it was concerned with our long term plan, whereas we were actually discussing and attempting to complete the 2019/20 annual plan at this meeting. None of those items had any spend proposed in 2019/20, so it was all immaterial. And very few of us would want to make long-term plan changes on the fly, without giving the officers a chance to marshal the information to allow us to make a reasoned decision. This can come later.

    The LGWM presentation at the Roxy: I made a silly remark towards the end of a very noisy and challenging meeting during which there had been many interjections (not by the young lady concerned). I was somewhat rattled when one woman demanded repeatedly that I resign over the “bustasthrope”. (It was only after the meeting that it dawned on me that she thought I was Chris Laidlaw.) When Steph spoke, I tried to inject a bit of humour but instantly regretted it as it was interpreted as condescending. Steph had started her question by saying she was head girl at St Catherine’s, so yes, I did start with a reference to her age as I believed this was the context: that young people deserved to have a fit for purpose bus service as much as anyone else. But I could have phrased it 100% better. I apologised at the time and more importantly I have sent my sincere apologies to Steph, and she has graciously accepted them. We all make mistakes in the heat of the moment and when I do I will always be the first to apologise and try very hard to avoid a repetition. I agree with Simon Woolf – we may well see and hear a lot more of Steph, in a good way of course!




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