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Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:32 am

Wellington City Council hopeful fighting for early Christmas present

Oct 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Fleur Fitzsimons, Labour Party candidate for the Wellington City Council Southern Ward by-election, at Jeypore Street play area in Berhampore.

The Labour Party hopeful for the capital’s vacant Southern Ward council seat has a long political background, but is nothing for granted.

Fleur Fitzsimons, a lawyer for the Public Service Association, says she is hopeful and optimistic of succeeding former Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle.

“It’s a by-election, it’s right before Christmas, so we’re going to have to do lots of work to make sure people know who I am and what I’m about and, importantly, turn out to vote,” she says.

The by-election was triggered by Eagle’s election as MP for Rongotai in the General Election last month.

Ms Fitzsimons says her priorities for the Southern ward would be housing, swimming lessons for children, and children’s facilities such as playgrounds and libraries.

She says the council bid was a natural move for her given her involvement in the union movement and as a past president of Victoria University’s student’s association.

She sits on the Island Bay School Board of Trustees and having previously advocated for an extension to paid parental leave.

“I’ve been politically active my whole life, so this is just the natural extension of that, really.”

She cites the importance of local facilities, something she has realised since having children.

“I’m hoping that my experience in campaigning, in politics and in the union movement will give me some good ways to ensure people’s voices are heard and that they can have a meaningful say in local decisions.”

She wants to play a role in social development, children, and child poverty in particular.

“I’d really like to do as much as the council can do in making Wellington a great place to live for all children”

She would also like to improve the “social cohesion” of Wellington, and the negative effects of loneliness on communities.

“There are some really good things the council can do to make sure that we’re more connected as people living in this city.”

Ms Fitzsimons expects there to be a lot of crossover between Labour Party representatives at both the local body and central government levels regardless of whether Labour forms a government.

“The issues that are facing Wellington, like affordable housing, like finding transport solutions, making sure all children have a great upbringing, are the same issues that matter nationally.”

The Southern ward sits on Wellington’s south coast, and includes such suburbs as Newtown, Brooklyn, Berhampore, and Island Bay.

Ms Fitzsimons’ Island Bay home suburb is likely to be a centre of by-election debate thanks to the council’s cycleway issue.

Candidate nominations close at noon on Thursday, October 26 and vocal cycleway opponent Vicki Greco is also contesting the election.

Ms Greco was at the centre of heated scenes over the cycleway proposal, including an instance when she stormed out of a council meeting last month.

Greco wants a restoration of The Parade to its pre-cycleway design.

Ms Fitzsimons supports the cycleway compromise the council devised last month, which will include a widening of the footpath to accommodate a cycleway. Car parking will be available against the curb.

But Ms Fitzsimons hopes the process has taught the Council lessons about community consultation and involvement.

“A cycleway like that should never be a shock to a community.

“That should never happen.”

Voting takes place from Thursday, November 30 up until Friday, December 22, with ballot papers posted to the roughly 9500 households in the Southern Ward.

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