Warren Cooper: City Hall needs to master good sense


OPINION: I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions – that is until this year when I decided to stop bellyaching about Queenstown’s council by sharing a spirit of goodwill to our new mayor and elected members.

Alas, that resolve was shattered when reading the Otago Daily Times report of last Thursday’s council meeting.

Evidently, the council bureaucrats want a masterplan.

They are trumpeting the need for revitalising public transport, new parking, new council buildings, redeveloping streetscapes and a convention centre.

In my time as mayor they would have got short shrift.

Just how our cadre of elected 11 could have subscribed to such unbridled waffle intrigues me.

Take for instance the desire to exhume the body of what we thought was buried – a convention centre which was promoted with shonky figures provided by allegedly professional advisers.

And revitalising public transport? What, with mouth-to-mouth or the Heimlich manoeuvre?

Then building multi-storeyed carparks? What member of the council’s fantasy group checked the economic reality of that?

I’d anticipated that mayor Jim Boult’s election would have brought about my demise as an observer of City Hall.

But my goodwill has been eroded by this deviation.

Fortunately I know politicians usually act sensibly when they have exhausted every other possibility.

Adding fuel to the fire is the Wilde man (Steve) at lobby group DowntownQT, who welcomes the masterplan.

Queenstown was originally planned as a camp.

Narrow streets and alleyways surrounded by the lake and mountains.

A natural amphitheatre.

For me, that’s its real charm.

Why can’t the clueless recognise that?

The MASTERPLAN is to herald the “redevelopment of streetscapes”.

I think the early surveyors did us proud.

Queenstown, in its present setting, is the magnet.

The glue to hold it together is people – locals and visitors.

The masterplan, according to the council’s infrastructure boss, is needed to mesh the whole thing together.

To me it is a mish-mash.

I’m not for a masterplan.

A man named Adolf Hitler, originally a painter from Austria, worked on a masterplan for Germany while in jail.

It did not work for Germany – or him for that matter.

The only thing it will do for Queenstown is put the brakes on essential, overdue vital work.

Three months after being sworn in, our council is in danger of entering the wilderness the bureaucrats will create as they escape into their dreams.

The fantasies they create, some of which will be incapable of realisation, will simply be a cost to us, the tribe of ignoramus.

So I say bugger the masterplan. What about a simple plan?

Clear out Ballarat Street land for the transport hub. Make Warren Park low-cost parking.

This is the year of the rooster. Do something to crow about.

Warren Cooper is a former Queenstown mayor and National cabinet minister