QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR THE FISHHEASD MAGAZINE INTERVIEW An interview with Mayoral candidate Bryan Pepperell1.) How would you sum up the role of Mayor of Wellington?
The Mayor is the chair of the full council. As the head of Wellington, the Mayor must be available city-wide to the constituents, to ensure their views are equally represented. The Mayor is the custodian of democracy at the local level, something which has been forgotten in recent years. In addition, the title of Mayor also carries the same responsibilities as a Justice of The Peace.2.) What will be the main messages of your campaign for the Mayoralty?
NO EXTRA CHARGE FOR WATER NO WATER METERS FOR HOMEOWNERS
A key focus of mine is retaining the status of water as a public benefit and by virtue of this, keeping it well away from the hands of profit takers. Another focus is making Wellington an affordable city during these uncertain times for both home owners and those who rent. An additional topic close to my heart is maintaining a wide screen focus on the whole community, as opposed to just one specific section with business interest objectives. I would also like to dedicate more parts of the city to pedestrian and car-free spaces.3.) What do you think are the big issues facing Wellingtonians over the next term and what will you be doing about them if you become Mayor?
The present and very much pressing issue of leaky buildings is casting a dark cloud over our city. This issue has to be attended to before we move on to other things. Equally importantly, we need a city that puts people before profit and where benefits to the public and the concept of living sustainably within our means become key priorities.4.) What is your view on the privatisation of Wellington’s water?
When the water management local authority trading enterprise Capacity was set up (like Capital Power that replaced the MED) the process of privatising began. Water management should be brought back in house and delivered at cost to the citizens and ratepayers. While it is delivered outside of council we carry the extra cost of a board of directors that are selected rather than elected and as such, water delivery is subject to the profit takers. This is quite wrong and will eventually go the same way as all council controlled trading entities that fall into the hands of profit takers. So far in, Capacity has failed to meet its key performance indicators (KPIs) and the savings objective that were the reason for its creation. Private profit is always an extra cost to the consumer.5.) What is the best way forward to increase Wellington’s productivity, create jobs and increase wages?
There several ways to look at this question but striking a balance is also important. Liberate the work force, pay by productivity and allow people to work closer to home. As a result people will spend less time travelling by car or by public transport. However if we need to do a paradigm shift as many informed people are now arguing, then it could be that economic expansion and wage increases are not so realistic given the current global financial crisis. In that case, quality of life may be more important. It is also important to note that the leaky building scandal has stalled council's ability to contribute significantly to the local economy. Sometimes we need to face reality and stop dreaming.6.) Do you think current council processes are transparent enough?
They would be more transparent if the media paid more of an interest in what is happening. Many council meetings take place with no media present. The main public watchdog should be the media.7.) What are your views on the current rates policy?
I believe that there is a need for a better deal for home owners who are unable to deduct or pass on rates. The residential ratepayer is carrying too much of the rating burden with the switching of business rates onto the residents' rates bill. I also think visitor taxes should be a revenue option. Moving the rates from one sector to another does not deal with the serious problem of the city living beyond its means. One elderly resident talked about the Council's spending spree of rate and spend, borrow and spend, sell and spend. We must live within our means or we will sink with debt. Council's debt could easily exceed the 2009/10 LTCCP level of $325 million within the next two years by over $100 million. At a time of economic recession that spells disaster.8.) Are you happy with the rate of development in Wellington and the standard of architecture?
The ever-present leaky building issue is bound up with amongst other things - design and architecture. We should have a stronger sense of natural and built heritage. Buildings are taking away sunlight and views, and this is not good. I also believe special attention needs to go into finishing the waterfront, as well as ensuring no more buildings and allowing more open space. We also need better consultation with, and a more attentive ear to, the opinions and aspirations of the community.9.) In one paragraph explain what you, as Mayor will do for the city of Wellington:
Ultimately, Wellington needs to become self-reliant, affordable and sustainable as climate change and peak oil impinge on us. It is also equally important that we resist the privatisation of water. Additionally, there needs to be a greater focus on pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the implementation of more carless areas. Wellington is compact city, a city that values its quality of life and, by virtue of this, its intellectual life, art and culture above all else. Essentially, we must begin to move towards a paradigm shift where we live closer to work, grow food locally and are above all, less dependent on oil. Personally speaking, should I be elected as Mayor, I believe that we as a city can, beyond simply moving towards, actually accomplish all of the above - and more!