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Traffic, mall and living wage on minds of northern ward voters

Sep 17th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, Local body elections, News

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MEET ME: Candidates (from left to right) Malcolm Sparrow, Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie, Peter Gilberd, Jacob Toner at Johnsonville Uniting Church.

BAD traffic conditions in Johnsonville, the stalled Johnsonville Mall updates and the living wage are
problems which voters want solved in the council elections.

The issues were raised by Northern Ward voters at the first meeting with candidates for their three Wellington City Council representatives on Thursday last week.

The next meeting, which includes mayoral candidates, will be held on Monday, September 23.

Each Northern Ward candidate had five minutes to speak to the audience of about 50 people at Johnsonville Uniting Church hall, followed by questions from the floor.

The line-up was current Northern Ward councillors Justin Lester and Helene Ritchie, plus candidates Peter Gilberd, Malcolm Sparrow and Jacob Toner.

Cr Lester was particularly concerned with traffic congestion, while Cr Ritchie spoke about conservation and continued maintenance of walkways.

Peter Gilberd, a former physics lecturer, spoke about education and civil resilience.

Mr Sparrow, who has been chairperson of Tawa Community Board, wanted closer communities and Mr Toner, an IT project manager, called for a more efficient council.

PUBLIC ADDRESS: Cr Lester speaks as candidate Malcolm Sparrow and Cr Ritchie listen.

Mr Toner was heckled by audience members who felt issues he raised about the council were a personal attack against current Northern Ward representatives.Cr Lester addressed mall upgrade delays saying while he remained committed to making it a priority at council meetings, developments were unlikely for the next 18 months.

“I moved here in 1977 and there was talk about revamping the mall then, it is now 2013,” said Margaret Clark, from Johnsonville.

Alan Rice, a Tawa resident, wanted council processes to be clearer to the public.

“I called the council up to ask about the auditing process and they told me that six and a half people were responsible for it,” he said.

“I don’t know what six and a half people can do, but it strikes me that there should be more people in charge of such an important job.”

Dennis Mundt, from Newlands, said while he understood the council had to go through processes which ‘seems like procrastination to the public’, he would like to see things happen.“Less talk, more action,” said Mr Mundt.

Health candidates against alcohol laws

GREATER Wellington regional council and Capital Coast DHB candidates also had an opportunity to speak at the Johnsonville meeting.

DHB candidates present were Russell Franklin, Helene Ritchie, Chris Laidlaw, Judith Aitken and Sue Kedgley.

Newswire asked Capital Coast DHB candidates what they thought could be done to deal with pressures binge drinking puts on the health system.

The general consensus was that it needs to be solved at a national level, rather than with local bodies such as Wellington City Council which has been dealing with the issue this year.

Judith Aitken, who is standing for both the DHB and regional council, said submissions she directly had an input in were an effective way of dealing with it at a grassroots level.

“Top of the cliff [in addressing the problem] is at a national level, bottom of the cliff is the emergency department,” said Cr Laidlaw, who is also standing for both bodies.

Former paediatrician Dr Russell Franklin said it was important for him “as it was a very important issue for youth”.

Cr Ritchie described Wellington City Council’s draft alcohol policy was “a lemon”.

However, none of the candidates gave specifics about Capital Coast DHB policy ideas they felt could deal with binge drinking pressures on the health system.

All who spoke said they opposed Wellington’s draft alcohol policy.

The next Northern Ward meeting is for mayoral candidates on September 23, at Johnsonville Uniting Church, Dr Taylor Tce, at 8pm.

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