“A collective mistake”Diane Calvert
“A collective mistake” is no laughing matter.
It’s fascinating to hear the Mayor “sharing the love” for the Island Bay cycleway decisions, how others such as Andy Foster (being one of the key supporters and Chair of the Transport and Urban Development -TUD Committee) showing little sympathy and some Councillors being quick to show they were not at fault. Yes a good learning experience all around. But is it?
While the issues regarding the Island Bay cycleway were swirling around, the same Council team got on with the Hutt Rd cycleway proposal using the same poor design techniques and the same woeful community engagement approach. All done under the governance of the TUD Committee.
The Hutt Rd cycleway is in the Onslow-Western Ward and is stated in Council plans as connecting the suburbs of Ngaio and Khandallah to the city. None of the local ward Councillors (Foster, Coughlan and Woolf) made any attempt to have early engagement with these communities. However Foster, it seems, was ok to have early engagement with Cycle lobby groups based outside the area.
Fortunately by the time public consultation arrived (albeit with one of the Council’s famous skewed online surveys) in March this year, we were only six months from Council elections. So then suddenly we see Coughlan springing into action and coming to the rescue (with her proposal for the Great Harbour Way ride). This is the same ride already included in Council’s plans that she, as part of the Council, signed off on in June 2015. Surely it would have been better to raise its priority at that point?
Wellington’s cycleway programme has been a huge joke up to date. But I’m not laughing. The experiment to date has been an example of un-intelligent risk-taking, extreme waste of ratepayers funds and placed unnecessary angst on real people out in the community all by so called experienced politicians and officers. The detrimental reputational impact on Wellington will take some to recover.
So yes Council have now agreed to take things more slowly on the Hutt Rd and come out and re-engage on the next stages. I just hope lessons really have been learned once the elections are over. Voters can help by making it part of their consideration on who they want to see on Council. It’s time for a change.