The Gang of Numpties

The Gang of Numpties (l to r): John Morrison, Jo Coughlan, Ian McKinnon, Ngaire Best, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Leonie Gill, Paul Eagle, Justin Lester, Simon Marsh

Nine self-styled “rebel” Councillors recently voted to call an extraordinary meeting of the Wellington City Council in order to acquiesce to the demands of the NZ Transport Agency.

No longer content with its role as a neutral part of the public sector, the Transport Agency has recently begun active lobbying for its preferred roading options. Following comments to the DominionPost where an anonymous staff member described the actions of elected Councillors as “playing silly buggers” – in clear contravention of the public sector’s Code of Conduct – the NZTA Board sent a letter to the WCC seeking additional support for the Basin Reserve flyover, extra tunnels and road widening.

In a sickeningly spineless display led by the self-styled protector of the Basin Reserve, Cr John “Mystery” Morrison, nine Councillors duly lined up to ambush the Mayor and give the secretive NZ Transport Agency everything they wanted. Clearly, expecting these Councillors to require the designs for the roads, flyovers and tunnels before providing their support was a bit much – as was expecting them to have the nous to figure out that the roads destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars in value for taxpayers.

That’s right – the payback on the Basin Reserve flyover, the second Mt Victoria tunnel and the four-laning of Ruahine St is only 0.4. So for every $100 million in cost, taxpayers will see a scant $40 million in economic payback, although this didn’t seem to upset the Gang of Numpties at all. It also didn’t seem to phase the DominionPost, who despite thorough coverage of the debate have failed to mention that their beloved roads are a money-losing boondoggle.

Having pushed for the extraordinary meeting, the Gang of Numpties were rewarded with a resolution that … barely changed anything. The Council endorsed the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan (which it had already voted to support), noted that it was multi-modal (i.e. includes public transport, walking and cycling), appointed a committee to work on public consultation, and noted that further support would require that the Agency actually front up with the designs. So it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup, despite the DominionPost doing their level best to talk it up.

From the point of view of the Mt Victoria community, the key issue with this drama is that one of our Ward Councillors – Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon – has lined up with the Gang of Numpties. This is unhelpful, given that our community will be heavily affected by the flyovers and tunnels, the road noise and pollution. It should be expected that one of the Councillors representing the local community would be voting to protect local homes, not demolish them. Perhaps the next step is for local residents to contact Cr McKinnon and enquire why he’s putting the needs of itinerant motorists ahead of the needs of the people who elected him.

Where was the consultation?

Image credit: wellington.scoop

The Wellington Tunnels Alliance – the private/public partnership charged with upgrading the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels – has decided to close the the road tunnel for five nights a week, but hasn’t bothered talking to Mt Victoria residents about the detail of the plans. According to wellington.scoop:

The Mt Victoria tunnel is to be closed for five nights a week from next month until Christmas. Cars and pedestrians will be barred from using the tunnel from 8pm to 6am, Sunday to Thursday, while the ceiling is replaced.

The last meeting between the Tunnels Alliance and local residents was last year, when we were told that the plans for the possible closure times were still being developed. Since then, silence – until the announcement was made in the media. And we do have considerable concerns that these closures will result in significantly higher traffic volumes in Mt Victoria’s narrow streets as drivers use Majoribanks Street to head over the hill to access the Eastern suburbs. However there’s no evidence that the Tunnels Alliance has made any plans to manage the additional traffic flows – at least, not any plans they’re sharing with residents.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is just bloody rude. If the Wellington Tunnels Alliance can make the time to talk to Hataitai residents, then they can make the time to talk to us as well. Discovering that your neighbourhood will be the rat-run of choice for the city’s drivers via a media release is utterly unacceptable.

Public Meeting: A Motorway in Hataitai?

When: Tuesday 5 April 2011 from 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Where: Hataitai Bowling Club Hall, 157 Hataitai Rd, Hataitai, Wellington

Did you know that putting a flyover around the Basin Reserve, and a second Mt Victoria Tunnel is just the first stage of a planned four lane motorway through to the airport, which will go through Hataitai?
Dr Russel Norman MP is hosting a public meeting to inform the community about the Roads of National Significance programme for Hataitai and the Eastern suburbs and to outline a better alternative.

Dr Russel Norman MP, Green Party Co leader
Gareth Hughes MP, Green Party Transport Spokesperson
Cr Andy Foster, Wellington City Council Transport Portfolio Leader
Dr Kathleen Logan, Hataitai Residents Association
Chair: Sue Kedgley MP

Facebook Event:
To RSVP or for more information contact Malcolm Larking, 04 381 4640