We Wellingtonians are highly skilled, diverse, tolerant, liberal, digital savvy and creative. We are the best educated community in New Zealand and have the highest average incomes. However we cannot take our economic performance for granted, and can do much better. Our growth rate in the year to June was 2.2%, below the national average of 2.5% (source Infometrics). Our population was growing too at up to 2% in that time (WCC numbers).
Council’s principle economic role is to provide the environment in which business and creativity can thrive. That means providing critical infrastructure and facilities and keeping Wellington a great place to live. It’s advocating unashamedly for Wellington and actively building relationships that keep and attract businesses.
It also means specific economic policy.
- I will keep rates at affordable levels. Council currently plans a 70-80% rates rise over the next ten years. I think that is unaffordable and have a plan to at least halve that.
- Council culture – Council needs to fully understand that it is part of the community, not apart from it. Councils do not exist for their own purposes, but to serve the needs of their wider community.
- Better customer service. We need to be ‘here to help’. Since I declared I was running to be your next Mayor I’ve had many people tell me about their experiences dealing with Council, mostly in a regulatory area. It is clear to me that we need a culture that better respects the time and aspirations of customers. Sometimes it is too convenient to take time to deal with an issue.
I will use this November as a specific opportunity to send in customer experience stories and constructive ideas as to how we can improve customer service.
- I will create ‘Pathfinders’ – to help people through the labyrinth of Council processes – and pull together all the parts of Council so the right and left hands know what is happening.
- I will support establishment of Business Improvement Districts and test the concept of Neighbourhood Improvement Districts incorporating wider residential communities too. We have now 5 BIDs.
- I will hold regular business forums as a sounding board to understand the issues of importance to the business community.
- I will refresh our economic and arts and culture strategies.
- I will explore encouraging development of a professionally run (non-Council) venture capital fund to link emerging businesses with the investment funds they need to grow. Access to funding and mentoring are key constraints for emerging businesses.
- I will restore free Sunday parking in the Central City. Feedback from businesses and arts and culture organisations is that charging for weekend parking has significantly affected their patronage. I was one of the minority of councillors who opposed removal of free weekend parking earlier this year.
- I will work with and support our education sector on development plans, and on making our city a safe, attractive place for students to choose. Housing quality and affordability is a key issue. Some wonderful leading edge research is done in Wellington City and the wider region and deserves to be celebrated and supported.
- I will complete work being done on reviewing venues and their affordability. Our new Convention Centre will be completed, the Town Hall and St James strengthened and reopened. Ongoing risk management of these projects is a critical priority.
Rather than focus on competing with other cities I will focus Council’s support on the things that are uniquely, creatively Wellington. We already have some wonderful attractions such as Te Papa and Zealandia. We have a wonderful arts and culture offering the equal of many cities many times our size.
- I will make more of being the Capital City rather than hiding these treasures. (remember the 2015 celebrations of Wellington being the Capital for 150 years?)
- I will support a Movie Museum. Losing this – for now – is a real failure, when it was largely a landlord – tenant discussion. I first went behind the scenes at Weta workshops around 15 years ago and was convinced then that people would love to see and learn about the crafts in action – prosthetics, making weapons, armour, models, digital effects and of course movie props. 600,000 people a year visiting rural Hobbiton underpins how attractive this would be.
- I will promote recreational events built on our magnificent reserve network. A recent survey showed our greatest strength is considered to be being a ‘City set in nature.’
- I will make more of our wonderful craft, food and beverage artisans. Can Whittakers – ‘New Zealand’s most trusted brand’ – be encouraged and supported to provide a more accessible visitor experience?
- I will support and promote the quirky, creative attractions that Wellington has – such as the ever changing Carlucciland.
- I will seek to develop virtual history tours.
- I will conserve and open up military heritage sites.
- I will look to provide overnight tramping and camping around the coast.
- I will support the redevelopment of the interisland terminal as a quality gateway between our islands.
- I will work with Centreport on any plans to improve the Wellington experience for Cruise Ship visitors and bring them closer to the Central City.
- I will encourage Centreport to get some Cruise Ships to stay for two days.
- I will work with Wellington Airport on its 30 year master plan and how that integrates into the city and local community.
- I will seek to develop a (paid) campground to tap into the growing freedom camping market.