This blog post has been edited, to remove my interpretation of a graph from the Hamilton City Council’s Long Term Plan summary, which I believed to show the majority of submitters being against the central city park. It was pointed out, rightly so – that it shouldn’t be interpreted in that way – so I have removed it from this post so as not to be seen as ‘intentionally misleading’. My intention for this blog is to inform as best as I can and encourage participation in civic issues, and I would never intentionally mislead or “lie”. It’s not my style… you can find out and try to decipher the data yourself on the HCC website.
The Council’s recent purchase of Victoria street buildings for a ‘central city park’, in my opinion blatantly ignores public feedback. Here are the main reasons why I’m frustrated with this project and why I think the decision damages perception of our elected Council.
- The Mayor admitted this was a boyhood dream. As far as I’m concerned the only projects that should cross the Council table in a 10 year plan review are ones the community has asked for and where there has been a reasonable amount of legwork with the public / ratepayers. In political speak this is “taking the residents with them on the journey”. This project was rushed through.
- The true cost was and is largely a mystery. Even Rob Pascoe, Hamilton East Councillor and former Accountant disagreed with the proposed budget for buying and demolishing the buildings. That’s sure to kick us in the butt later…
- The integrity of the project was questionable. Accusations about dodgy back door deals flew around and were taken seriously enough to call Audit NZ to do a report on the process taken to buy the buildings. The report was held until after the project was given the tick…
- It’s in my opinion that the public is not in favour of this part of the overall River plan, in fact I think the Council has done a poor job of communicating what this proposal actually entails. However, there is no clear data showing this – which is another symptom of the park not going through robust processes.
The central city park project was rushed, not costed properly and with a process already considered by some as dodgy, it was inexcusable for Councillors to disregard the loud public opinion against the proposal. When residents don’t feel they are listened to it does irreparable harm which we’ve seen in a drop of voter turnout in 2016, and increase in negative indicators like those in the recent Quality of life survey.
Here’s the voting record for those who will use it to consider who to vote for in next year’s election.
FOR: King, Gallagher, Macpherson, Bunting, Taylor, Hamilton
AGAINST: O’Leary, Pascoe, Tooman, Casson, Henry, Southgate
This vote was split so the Mayor used a Casting Vote FOR to break the tie. Absent: Mallett