Friday, January 26, 2024

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Some rare good news for Wellingtonians

A bit of rare good news for Wellingtonians, they've escaped having the water restrictions ratcheted up on them this week.

That decision was taken today, it’s taken every week at the moment, and at the moment they’re staying in level 2- for now.

But the case against Wellington City Council as the bad guys is building fast. I would argue it’s becoming more and more obvious that they have neglected to fix the pipes when they knew they should've.

Remember how I told you the guys who fix the pipes asked for $10 million but only got $2.3 million from the council?

Turns out the reason Wellington City Council said no to giving all the money was because they told Wellington Water they didn’t think they could use all the money to do the job and fix the pipes.

Except they could. Because the budget for fixing the pipes the previous year was $10 million, and they used it all.

So Wellington City Council reduced the maintenance budget by 75 percent when they knew the pipes would leak- and there were water restrictions in the city every summer.

On top of that, there’s a guy on the Wellington Regional Council called Daran Ponter who's just thrown them to the wolves as well.

Daran is a Labour man, so you would expect him to be friendly to a left leaning council.

Nope, he’s called them out for spending the money they should be spending on pipes on other things- “new town halls, or refurbished town halls, or bike lanes".

Now, I reckon the case that’s building here is that this council needs Government intervention. It needs a Crown Observer called in.

Because if you don’t know that you should spend money on making sure people get water to their houses before you spend money on cycleways, you shouldn't be running a council.

Incidentally, the Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has gently threatened that in a letter to Wellington City Council- and I think he should follow through.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.


Doug Longmire said...

This is an extreme example of a problem with councils throughout New Zealand.
The problem being that councils tend to attract councillors who are more enthusiastic about visible edifices such as statues, new town halls, special recreation areas, "beautifying" the city etc, rather than doing the doing the basic bog standard stuff like water supply, drains, sewerage system, basic road maintenance, etc.
No "progressive" person standing for council will want to be remembered as the person who maintained the drains !

Scott said...

Should the government intervene in the workings of the Wellington City Council? The fact is that the people that sit on the Wellington City Council have been elected by the people of Wellington. I think they need to learn the lesson? Even the most liberal person in Wellington feels the pain when the taps run dry. Maybe they need to learn that lesson themselves the hard way?

I'm not in favour of central government having even more power and being able to take over local councils. Sooner or later the good folk of Wellington will wise up and elect competent people to sit on the council?

Ross said...

I have just looked at Wellington Water's website. It would appear to me one of their main problems is that it is a typically top heavy bureaucratic organisation. Too many people, so it is too easy for individuals to "hide behind other's backs".
For example, they have a Board and then another committee made up from various Council representatives (mayors etc.). Why the need for both? Don't the Councils trust the Board.
Time for a massive restructure and trimming down, along with resetting priorities.

NB. I live in Wellington.

Anonymous said...

How can you vote for good competent people if good competent people don't stand for the council or mayoralty? Reading through some of the profiles in the voting papers some of the people were no where near qualified for such leadership. I also don't think people even think about their local council until something like the water issue begins to affect them personally. They are generally happy that when they turn the tap on the water comes out, the rubbish is collected and the potholes are fixed. They are quite happy to have cycle lanes and new convention centres built as they assume we must have the money to afford it. It is only now the public are finding out this may not have been the case. Maybe you are right this is the wakeup call Wellington needs.

Robert Arthur said...

It would be interesting to know the causes of all the leaks. (The London sewage system is 170 years old.) From my observation huge immediate and latent damage is caused by underground services, replacement concrete footpaths, with the use of machines. Major excavations cause subsidence. much compaction is skimped.Thrusting a relatively recent hazard. A vast amount of damage is caused by utility contractors. Blame and costs not fully sheeted home as too much effort. I have observed multiple breaks outside a property I own. All caused by other contractors to Council. Little incentive to sheet blame to the cause and the time spent not easily chargeable. Near all work is contacted out with very light supervision so much work is sub standard and damage goes unreported (years ago permanent experienced Clerks of Works on jobs).