Wellington City Council

WCC; A sour start, to recount or not recount, tunnels, airports, and Hanlon’s Razor in action

It’s not been a great start to this triennium with a sour taste left in the mouth of the city and the left-leaning idealists already throwing their toys out of the cot over plans, putting aside what it is the city needs by politically-grandstanding and displaying a worrying naivete over city issues.

I was going to close this site down again until the next election, but it seems that we have a Council forming that is not only going to go nowhere but is going to go to the wrong part of nowhere, and once again, personalities are dominating the agenda rather than the city. I can’t stay away. I’ll also be setting up the Councillor scorecard in the next few days.

First, that recount, which looks like it is going ahead. On the face of it, this seems like a no-brainer. But it is a little more complex than that.

Justin clearly has political ambitions, and while they appear Labour aligned right now, like Leggett, I suspect that over the years that may change. Putting that aside, he won’t want to be known as the guy who lost a Mayoralty, contested it, spent $100,000 of resident’s money, and lost it a second time.

Which, on balance, is most likely to happen. It’s a pretty robust process that manages the counting, and it would be unusual to see it reverse a decision.

A recount also holds the city up from moving on, for days. It effectively puts everything into stasis because there is no point in planning for anything when we don’t know who the mayor will be.

If Justin does win, and Andy is pushed out, then we’re back to status quo with a lot of baggage to contend with. LGWM and that letter, Shelly Bay, vanity projects, and a howling idealistic left that is hell-bent on using their privilege to stop any progress.

Well, we have that now, we also can expect the shrieking idealistic right to appear anytime now. They are not going to sit back and let the left bleat about tunnels and asset sales, slamming the new mayor in the process.

Stasis.

It is going to be the word of this triennium unfortunately, and all the way at what should be an exciting new beginning, with at least some semblance of unity on issues they can agree on, showing a united front for the residents, with them forefront of mind, we have a divided Council at war.

Foster has been talking about that extra tunnel, which under LGWM is prioritised for anything other than private cars, and the idealists have come out with trumpets grandstanding, saying they won’t support it.

Let’s get this clear, any additional tunnel, right now, is not about cars.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has revealed the additional tunnel, proposed to ease congestion at the State Highway 1 chokepoint, would be prioritised for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians – rather than private vehicles.

Wellington’s extra Mt Victoria tunnel to favour public transport, cyclists and pedestrians

So you would think, wouldn’t you, that the left-leaning Councillors could agree on this one.

Councillors opposed to the idea were Green Party members Sarah Free and Iona Pannett, Labour Party members Teri O’Neill, Fleur Fitzsimons, and Rebecca Matthews, and independent candidate Jill Day.

New Wellington mayor looks to have a fight on his hands over extra Mt Victoria tunnel

Holy Shoot Yourself in the Foot Batman. Is this idealistic naivete at play or just dirty politics because they lost Justin? Frankly, I thought better of Sarah Free, though I can understand Iona’s position because she’s always been upfront with her politics, and as to the others, Labour puppets.

What’s ugly about this is that they’ve chosen to go public with it already, rather than listening, planning, analysing, and forming an opinion on what it could be. This tells me that it is likely to be more dirty politics based than naivete.

LGWM was already a Frankenstein before the election with a lot of central party meddling, poor behaviour around leaking, total lack of transparency, and so many lobby groups involved you’d need a stadium to hold a meeting.

And while for the city, it is critical, for these six Councillors, it’s a political football to be punted around.

Disgraceful.

Not to be content with having a crack at that, Fleur Fitzsimons then had another go over the potential option of the WCC selling it’s share of the airport, again, targeting Andy.

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons has confirmed she and other councillors had one-on-one meetings with Foster after the election in which he raised the idea.

Fitzsimons was opposed to the move, saying privatisation of a key piece of Wellington infrastructure was not the answer.

Foster was also considering removing funding the airport runway extension from the longterm plan, which Fitzsimons said was a political stunt.

Foster tests new councillors’ appetite for ‘asset recycling’ Wellington Airport shares

The only person who is performing a political stunt, and landing neatly on her head, is Fitzsimons.

Forsyth Barr valued the airport, in 2018, at around 1.1B. That means that WCC’s share is around $375m. The airport is one of the largest polluters in the city and with a council that, in another political stunt, declared a “climate emergency”, they are going to need to act on that.

Fitzsimons seems to think that by having a third of the company and sitting on the board of WIAL, we’ll be able to influence it. She’s completely naïve. The airport makes money through volume of flight movements, amongst other things, and they plan to grow the airport substantively east, west, and massively increase flights.

It’s an airport, that’s what they do.

The WCC has sat on that board for years and never managed to influence the airport on any matters.

In that time the Bridge Street community was utterly destroyed, many (a lot social) houses bought by the airport now sit empty as they seek to demolish entire streets in the area in the future when we are in a housing crisis, residents’ access has been severely curtailed, and the traffic congestion massively increased.

Yeah right, we should keep our seat at the table because we have “influence.”

That $375m could be used for a lot of other activities in a city whose spending is out of control. A library replacement. Civic Square. Social Housing. Transport initiatives. Right now it’s locked up in a massive concrete slab making a very mean return.

As to the airport extension, you’d think for the left idealists that were a no brainer, but even that got a negative reaction from Fitzsimons. Again, naivete?

I wrote a lot about the airport extension and did extensive research when the topic was hot, and frankly, it’s never going ahead.

  • The central government will not support it, that was a National government as well that said no, this lot would say no for sure.
  • The airport can’t afford it and have said it doesn’t make economic sense for them to pay for it.
  • Over thirty airlines have said that even if it were built, they wouldn’t use it.
  • The cost estimates are likely very low.
  • The proposed extension may not allow long-haul flights (based on weight) as promised.
  • The impact on the city and SH1 in terms of the build is significant.
  • The airport is still tied up with pilot legal action.

Influence is the consenting process and district plan.

A big up to all the other Councillors who have so made considered responses to these ideas and not engaged in tribal politics. Well done, you passed the first test.

Right now, this city needs some certainty and stability, and having six outliers grandstanding is not helping that cause. It’s not helping their cause either.

I can’t tell if that is an orchestrated campaign or just a knee-jerk reaction based on a lack of research, lack of listening to the community, a poor understanding of the history of these things, or just naivete.

But, as my grandfather used to say, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I suspect we are going to need to apply Hanlon’s Razor a lot in the next few weeks.

4 replies »

  1. Andy consistently spoke of a car tunnel. He did not campaign on selling the airport stake. 6 out of 14 is more like inlier. Andy’s whole job is to get majorities around the table. He never had a clear pathway to this, and he’s starting out with some whacky approaches. Andy needs to figure out where he can get majorities and work on them. Cycling, congestion charging and compact urban form.

    Like

  2. I so agree with you. It is disgusting to see the political antics already underway. They have completely forgotten that they are there to represent he citizens of Wellington NOT for their own political grandstanding. Party politics should NEVER be allowed in local government.

    Like

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