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Time To Pull Finger Says Kāpiti Mayor To Wellington City Council Politicians

Press Statement by Kāpiti Mayor K. Gurunathan 30 April 2020

I'm making a public appeal to Wellington City's mayor and councillors to pull finger and sort their differences for the sake of the Wellington Region. I do this reluctantly but the importance of the City's economy to the rest of the region is so critical that some regional concern at what's happening must be signalled. I'm confident other mayors in the region are equally concerned.

The region, like the rest of the country is facing unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The negative economic impact on local economies is huge and we are in the midst of a growing global recession. We need Wellington City politicians to be concentrating on providing leadership at this time. Instead the region is hearing that an independent government commissioner may be called in to sort out their political differences.

The regional councils have often been told that what's good for Wellington is good for the region. By extension, therefore, what's bad for Wellington is bad for the region

With an asset value of $7.2 billion, an operational budget of $538m, and a capital expenditure of $228m, Wellington City is undoubtedly the economic and cultural engine of the region. Of the 7,700 Kāpiti residents who commute out of the Kāpiti district to work, 5,000 work in Wellington. So Kāpiti has a stake in the continued prosperity of Wellington and the region.

I like to challenge Wellington City councillors to have early and meaningful discussions on a regional response to a post Covid-19 world. For example, regional transport and work patterns have changed. What do Wellington City politicians think about the opportunity to decentralise Wellington given technology has enabled thousands to stop commuting and instead work from home? Online employment hubs in Kāpiti, and elsewhere in the region can continue these positive changes reducing transport capacity and congestion problems.

These are only some of the challenges facing the region. We need to review, complete and adopt the Wellington Regional Growth Framework and the spatial plan this will create to enable the Wellington Region to work together. I appeal to our Wellington City Council politicians to put aside differences and support the people of the region during this time of crisis.

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