Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Manners Mall Next Stop The Environment Court

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With the final passing of the revocation of pedestrian status of Manners Mall and creation of shared space in lower Cuba Street at the Council meeting on Friday, December 11, 2009, one battle has ended. I suspect this unequal contest between dedicated activists and Council is now headed to the Environment Court and another battle. There have been accusations and counter claims of a pre-set agenda and talk in the public domain of conflicts of interest. Those issues have been referred to the court of public opinion. One anxious and over cautious councillor exempted herself on the grounds of conflict of interest. Some have argued that others should have joined her. In this situation perception of a conflict is more than enough to exempt one from participating, Leaving that to one side it can be argued that the democratic process was found wanting. Democracy is never just the rule of a majority but balancing protection of minority interests and sharing the benefits also.

In the process of weighing up all the issues, the rules of consultation excluded a substantial group of citizens. Neither the e-petition nor the two facebook groups (one with a membership of 4737 and the other with 596) were excluded from the formal process on the grounds that they were not in possession of all the information that Council had in the consultation. I reminded Council that regardless of the rules such a body of opinion should not be ignored. The people had spoken loudly and overwhelmed those who participated in the formal process. Their exclusion will do nothing to build confidence in a system that has only minority support. Let’s face it Council hasn’t had a majority mandate from those eligible to vote for many years. One thing we do know is that cynicism is well established across all ages in the population. With elite agendas often running counter to public opinion, faith in local government won’t be growing any day soon. Given the way elected representative ignore public opinion you can understand the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the voters. It’s not that Council isn’t aware of the issue. It took a public meeting with over two thousand citizens attending to call a halt to Variation 17 on the waterfront. Some people are saying, with justification, that Variation 11 has replaced variation 17. Waterfront Watch is going to the Environment Court.

While the formal submission process on the revocation of Manners Mall might have been finely balanced between those for and those against there was a flood of opposition by way of the e-partition and the Facebook social networking site. When the silent majority stir the Council excludes them. We have had workshops where the new ways of networking, and expressing opinions have been discussed. However the old power paradigm still dominates outcomes. Elites and minorities continue to rule us and public opinion continues to express itself in letters to the editor supervised by gatekeepers. When this happens activists and the disgruntled are apt to take more extreme actions. This we have seen lately.

What we have lost in Manners Mall with Council’s latest decision is the loss of pedestrian friendly open space with a raft of activity that goes with such a space. The Mall provides a valuable place for the residents of Manners Street who live in the high rise apartments. It has one of the highest pedestrian counts in the City with small businesses making their living off the foot traffic. Gone will be 30 years of sense of place and heritage. It will be replaced with a higher carbon footprint at a cost of $11.5 million and more cars. Who said the City had aspirations of carbon neutrality?

4 Comments:

Blogger maria van der Meel said...

Well, Kerry Prendergast did of course in her acceptance speech when she was re-elected into her third term, yes I was there and heard her say she was working towards making this city carbon neutral, does she actually know what that means?

Well written comments from our Councillor, the City is Ours may invite the writer to the stand in the Environment Court what say you Bryan?

2:59 AM  
Blogger maria van der Meel said...

Any prizes for submitters on the Back to the future blogsite?

1:41 AM  
Blogger maria van der Meel said...

Merry christmas.......

Recommendation 6 (c) note revocation will take effect after the bus carriage way has been completed. WHAT!!!!

According to the Local Government Act work can legally commence after the council has passed a resolution at an open meeting (public included) to fix a date for revocation of the pedestrian status of Manners Mall.

Who ever voted for recommendation 6 (c) is actually in breach of the Local Government Act 1974 and may be held accountable in a court of law.

Question: What else have they let slip through in their efforts to serve this city to the best of their abilities?

Wake up Wellington their house is on fire and we have a water shortage!!!!!!

3:14 AM  
Blogger maria van der Meel said...

There are some who say Manners Mall will become an election issue,

There are some who know Manners Mall will become an election issue,

There are some that will make Manners Mall their platform for the election in 2010

The City is Ours says vote with care, we don't want another developer friendly council be they prominant, energetic or otherwise. The people of Wellington want governance with a view to the future protecting the citizenry and fostering their needs.

No longer should we accept the current approach to growing the City's population if infrastructure to support it does not follow. Say no to those wanting to continue to build their castles in the sand as monuments for the future.

Let not the gatekeepers give away our City's treasures gifted by our fore fathers so we might enjoy their riches.

Vote in the 2010 local body elections Go Wellington

3:12 AM  

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