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.