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Shock Vote By Wgtn. CC To Privatise Coastal Park


Shock Vote By Wellington City Councillors To Privatise Coastal Park Land On Wellington's South Coast

Tena Koutou.

In a shock vote, on Thursday 15 June 2006, Wellington City Councillors voted to privatise part of the entrance to the south coast park at Owhiro Bay.

This vote came a little over 6 months after a previous attempt by several councillors to sell the land was stopped, when it was revealed that no public proper consultation had taken place.

On Thursday, a majority of councillors flatly rejected the results of community consultation which saw 95 percent support for retaining the land in public hands. The majority of councillors voted instead to privatise the land for private housing development.

Not only did the Councillors reject the result of the public consultation, they also recommended their own officers' recommendations that the land should be retained.

Only 13 submissions supported selling the land - and it was those 13 submissions which a majority of Councillors favoured.

The Southern Environmental Association (SEA) led the broad-based public campaign to create the public park at this site in the 1990s, and is shocked by the result of the vote. "If 95 percent public support for retaining this coastal land is not enough to get the community's voice heard by the Conucil, what would it take?" asks SEA spokespeople Robert Logan and June Epsom.

"The arguments put forward for selling the land were nonsense. For example, some have claimed that selling part of the park land was appropriate to fund enhancements to the area, but this practice is never followed elsewhere in Wellington. The $4 million make-over of Karori Park is not being funded by selling off part of Karori Park. This Council is adopting a different practice for the south coast in comparison with other park areas," says SEA's Robert Logan.

"There is strong and genuine community support for retaining this land in public hands. It was acquired at the public's request to create a public park. This is a a community asset and should not be sold off into the hands of private developers. It should be retained in public ownership for the benefit of future generations," say June Epsom and Robert Logan of SEA.

The land would still have to go through a district plan change process before it can be sold. That process would be open to public submissions.

Together with the SEA, retention of the land in public ownership is favoured by Southern Ward Councillors Celia Wade-Brown and Bryan Pepperell, the Owhiro Bay Residents' Association, and the Island Bay Residents' Association.

Kia Ora

15 June 2006

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