Vote out this hopeless crop


PARTING SHOT: After more than a year of watching I think it’s time to call it - this current crop of councillors is hopeless.

I got here in July last year with very little idea of their track record. And I’ve tried to keep an open mind.

But there’s very little merit I can find in what I’ve seen (to be fair, the jury’s out on latecomer Scott Stevens).

This council is in danger of making it to next year’s election having achieved almost nothing.

This isn’t a personal attack. I know many of them well enough to exchange pleasantries at the supermarket and I have an outstanding lunch invitation with one (which, depending on the reaction to this column, may not happen).

On paper they’re a smart and successful bunch, but put them round a table and very little of note gets done.

I’ve been trying to think of their achievements.

Sure, they’ve awarded some big contracts. There’s a massive sewerage system upgrade in the works.

But the contract was only awarded after a run-in with the Otago Regional Council, which threatened to punish them for breaching their poo ponds discharge consents.

There’s a new sports facility to be built in Arrowtown. Yay. But it’s been in the works for years and getting info about it was like getting blood out of Gibbston schist.

Changes to the district plan - out for public consultation - promote greater density. That’s a good move.

But there’s no pressure on land-bankers and, under the draft proposals, there’s greater uncertainty because everything will be discretionary.

They signed a housing accord with the government but then had to apologise after, contrary to their own policy, they neglected to consult with special housing area neighbours.

In February, they trumpeted their transport strategy. There were few details and, on the day of their big announcement, the regional council said it would only review public transport in the Wakatipu Basin in 2016.

The local council also announced a draft economic strategy.

But it had to backtrack after their consultant suggested merging Destination Queenstown with the other promotions bodies.

They put rates up - after two years of holding rates they’ve been unable to stem the tide. That’s after rounds of job cuts and deferring big projects.

Consultant costs are a worry.

Credit where it’s due. It fixed some weather-damaged tracks. And I mentioned the terrible state of Isle Street to the mayor and within days it was being re-sealed.

But the Fergburger footpath extension was a costly debacle and plan change 50 seems little more than a thinly-veiled attempt to make it easier to build a convention centre (and rezone land so hoteliers could prop it up, financially).

That dormant plan is the centrepiece of this council’s pitiful lack of progress.

Almost three years after the council issued a ‘request for proposal’ it’s unclear if even a dollar of external funding’s been secured.

Negotiations with Ngai Tahu over a hot pools complex are dragging on. On the plus side, some damp old cabins have been gifted to the council. Whoopty doo.

Meanwhile, the council has burned through more than $1 million - that’s our money - on consultant costs for plan change 50 and the convention centre, as well as untold hours of staff time.

Surely the government would fall over itself to get an economic ‘win’ in Queenstown. I take the John Key administration’s lack of commitment to a convention centre here as a sign of the local council’s disorganisation.

The government’s waited for a firm business case but it’s nowhere to be seen.

Say what you like about Warren Cooper but at least under his firm hand things got done and you knew where you stood.

It’s a hard job being a councillor and a thankless one. Several councillors are incredibly hard-working and get less than minimum wage for their efforts.

But a council can’t just be judged on sweat. They need results and this mob haven’t done enough.

In October next year I reckon it’s time for a new bunch.