Wellington City Council is just one of the many local authorities whose staff and elected officeholders seek to use their office to pursue grand visions, that rarely stack up on any proper cost-benefit analysis. In Wellington’s case there are big things like the airport runway extension, which fails on any decent analysis (notably the one that says no private sector owner would fund it) but only limps in through the planning process because councillors want to waste tens of millions of ratepayers’ money on it, or the convention centre, or the earthquake strengthening of the Town Hall (I quite like the building, but at what price?). Or the smaller things like the Island Bay cycleway, supported by very few residents, costing ever more money, but……..part of the dream of Justin Lester and his team.
One might find their excesses slightly less annoying if the Council managed to get the basics right. But they fail on that score too. The housing and urban land market is only the most visible example – a holiday climb to the top of Mt Kaukau is a reminder again of just how much land there is in Wellington City, and yet of how council restrictions mean house and land prices move to ever more unaffordable levels (a real estate agent’s letter yesterday suggested Wellington was the last significant rising market in Australasia). Whose interests are they serving? Certainly not those of the rising generation of Wellingtonians, but this is an ideology to pursue.
And then there are real basics like water. Perhaps like many places, Wellington has watering restrictions in place over summer, whether or not there is much rain. I don’t have too much problem with that, even if I can’t help thinking that using a price mechanism might be a better approach. But it sticks in the craw when people are restricted in their ability to water their gardens while the Council does nothing about fixing leaks even when they’ve been reported (and WCC does have a user-friendly page for reporting such things). This is a case in point.
These leaks – two side by side – have been going on for more than two weeks now. I walk past them almost every day. They were reported to the Wellington City Council more than two weeks ago: about two weeks ago I stopped and talked to someone who lived next to the water flows, who told me she had already reported it to the Council.
I watched it day after day, until finally yesterday I filled in the Council’s form and notified them again. I even got a prompt response. This is how it ran
We are aware of the leaks here and they are in progress with our Water Team to be repaired. There is a bit of a delay due to the location of the leak with it needing a traffic management plan in place for the crew to carry it out safety.
Talk about a jobsworth excuse. This leak is at the very top of a dead end street. To the left of where the leaks start there is a single private driveway, and just slightly closer to where I took the photo is the start of a pedestrian walkway. It is true that there is a building site on the right (you can see one of the two entrances – the other is on another street), but:
- there is no through traffic at all,
- the spot where the leak is could easily be fenced off with some cones, separating it from the traffic for the building site.
Perhaps more importantly, for several weeks the building site was closed for the Christmas holidays. Work only resumed on Monday, and these leaks had been notified to the Council at least two weeks ago. For several weeks there was almost no traffice anywhere near the leak – and even now there is no through or passing traffic.
How do they ever manage when leaks occur on genuinely busy roads? It is just waste.
But why would they care when there are ideological agendas to pursue? I suppose voters keep electing these people, although between a Regional Council that stuffed up Wellington’s buses, and a city council that renders houses unaffordable, I’m firmly resolved not to vote for any incumbent (or anyone supported by incumbents) in this year’s local body elections.