Posts tagged ‘WCC’


Park: wise

27.05.2013

Earlier today, the following press release was issued by my campaign team. And so far, judging by comments on my personal Facebook and my mayoral campaign page, the mood seems to be in favour of a park at Cuba Street. I realize other policies won’t be as cut-and-dry, and discussion remains very welcome (as evidenced on my Facebook campaign page).

Mayoral candidate Jack Yan calls for new Cuba Street park

Wellington, May 27 (JY&A Media) Wellington City mayoral candidate Jack Yan says if he is elected, he will move to see the establishment of a new inner-city park on Cuba Street.
   The Wellington City Council’s 2012–22 long-term plan budgets for NZ$3·2 million to be spent on new inner-city park space and Mr Yan proposes that the money be spent on Cuba Street.
   ‘Ideally, I would like to see Council invest in a new park on the present Wilson car park next to Swan Lane on Cuba Street.
   ‘The site receives a large amount of sun and Cuba Street has high foot traffic. There is also a large number of apartment buildings in the area, with further developments, such as the INK Apartments on Ghuznee Street planned. It’s a natural fit.
   ‘A park space here will make Cuba Street an even more attractive destination. This will help bring businesses back to the street, which have been turned away through earthquake strengthening concerns.’
   Mr Yan says that the space will also encourage greater collaboration between Wellingtonians, who will find it a useful meeting-place.
   He says if elected later this year, he will work energetically with other councillors to direct officers to evaluate this and other sites for an inner city park.
   Mr Yan says it is part of a longer-term revitalization plan that he envisions for the Cuba Quarter, which he believes has great technological and development potential.
   ‘It’s been a while since a new inner city green space has been created and during this time, the inner city population has continued to rise. Inner city residents, workers and visitors, all need somewhere outdoors where they can relax.’

Summary
• Mayoral candidate Jack Yan says he will move to see the Council construct a new inner-city park on the Wilson car park site on Swan Lane and Cuba Street.
• WCC has already budgeted NZ$3·2 million for a new park
• Mr Yan believes construction of a park on Cuba Street will help reverse the trend on Cuba Street of businesses moving elsewhere.
• WCC’s capital value for the site is NZ$1¼ million

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Posted in business, culture, leadership, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


In Wellington, the players need to change

23.05.2013

The below was written on April 22, 2013, in response to an article in The Dominion Post. It was offered to the newspaper as an op–ed, then to The Wellingtonian, but it was eventually declined.

The Dominion Post’s headline on April 22 confirmed what many of us knew after numerous friends and colleagues left Wellington over the last several years.
   Our population growth is below the national average, as are our employment and economic growth. In fact, the regional Wellington economy is stagnant.
   In 2010, I stated that we needed to look at our creative sector, and encourage creative clusters, to get Wellington’s economy back on track. Even then it was evident that the early 2010s were not going to get off to a healthy start. If we were to get central government’s support for any projects—even the Mayor’s light-rail programme—then surely the wisest thing would be to increase the industry in our city first?
   The free wifi I campaigned on was never meant to be seen in isolation. It was a signal to international businesses in that sector that Wellington was open to investment and collaboration. That inward investment and sharing of knowledge could, in turn, help local firms expand and export.
   We had reached the limits of our natural resources, so we needed to start using intellectual property, and increase R&D in our city. While ICT is healthy in Wellington, the priority must be to identify companies, in this and other high-value sectors, that can become nationally or internationally competitive with the right nudge. We should not be, as the late Sir Paul Callaghan stated in a 2011 address, locked into a single sector—and that was what the clusters were all about.
   With my 2013 candidacy, not much has changed about these ideas. The real difference is that they have become far more pressing.
   The next mayor needs to work with one’s counterparts in the region and agree on identifying, using rigorous criteria, which are our next champions. Which firms, for instance, are those that are sitting on $1 million revenues today that can be at $10 million shortly, if they were given the right exposure, contacts or opportunities?
   And since nationally, high-tech exports are growing at 11 per cent per annum, according to the World Bank, it’s not a bad sector to start with. It just shouldn’t be the only one.
   Wellington businesses are not asking for hand-outs, but the right connections. These firms also need to be encouraged to look beyond just being content with a small patch, when Wellington business-people often hold great ideals and more socially responsible ways of doing things. These can, in fact, inform the way business is conducted in other cities, and contribute to how New Zealand is marketed and seen abroad.
   I do not advocate a policy of “growth for growth’s sake”. But I do argue that the innovative way successful Wellington businesses have approached their sectors can take a larger share of the global pie.
   In my case, it’s putting 26 years’ experience on the line, the majority of that in exporting frictionless products and services.
   We can opt for politics as usual, or identify and nurture the right players in our business sector.
   When it comes to business, it must be international in scope, inspiring politicians at the national level about what Wellington is made of.
   We can consider electing people who have spent time bridging cultures and creating those international links, which we need right now if two other cities are getting the government’s focus. Wellington’s businesses have gone under the radar for too long, and they need an ally who can balance their needs while ensuring citizens’ rights are protected.
   I see our city having spent too much time breaking its own rules, and being forced to answer through formal proceedings brought by Waterfront Watch and other groups.
   The system and its rules are healthy, but the players need to change, and a cultural change, internally and externally, is needed for Wellington in its local body elections.

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Posted in business, culture, leadership, marketing, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


Dialogue on my campaign’s Facebook group: Wellington buses and student discounts

06.05.2013

My Facebook campaign group (Back Jack 2013) is getting some traction, though my Facebook page does have more members. Nevertheless, I’m very open to discuss my policies—as much as I have been around Wellington soliciting ideas and feedback, there’s nothing like getting your views on how I’ve interpreted them in my manifesto.
   Today, Jonathan Ball asked on my Facebook group: ‘Do you have a view on the Wellington bus services not offering a student discount like they do in other centers?’
   My response: ‘Hi Jonathan: my feeling is that this is a regional issue (as the Regional Council looks after transport), and we would work with the Regional Council to ensure a fairer deal for all Wellingtonians, not just students. As I said with transport issues in 2010—the year there was a huge fare increase—we need to demonstrate that we have policies that can show GWRC we are headed on an upward economic path. There was no clear illustration of this three years ago, and the latest statistics show that this is still absent. They may be inclined, then, to put up fares again to cover their costs. The GWRC has gone on record to say that this is their reason—that it’s expensive to run public transport in Wellington. By putting up fares (annually, incidentally), they say that they can spare ratepayers rates’ increases.
   ‘Short of having a policy that can improve our economy sustainably and responsibly, the pattern is bound to continue. It’s why I’ve highlighted economic issues in my manifesto, and why I plan to identify the real high-growth firms in our city and connect them to international markets so they can expand sensibly. We then provide a more compelling model for those who partner with us on funding.
   ‘That’s my answer at a general level. More specifically, I understand that some of the student discounts being discussed will see those from further out (e.g. Hutt City) derive a greater benefit. Is this a fair scenario if Wellington City has to bear a good deal of the cost? Are there sufficient buses going from those areas to the city? This is where I’d like public input, and it leans toward the need to consider regional reform, to aid transportation issues.
   ‘One easily implemented plan we have discussed on our team is to encourage lower off-peak fares for students, which will in the short term get around the GWRC’s fears about the cost of providing public transport here. If the buses are already travelling certain routes during off-peak times, then why not have them as occupied as possible?
   ‘If we are to have a model, I want to make sure that it’s fair for everyone, and works for everyone. It would be something I would be happy to work on for Wellingtonians at the regional level.’
   The dialogue has continued at the Facebook group—I invite you to share your thoughts.
   Some other topics have already been raised there since I announced my campaign last month, and your input would be welcome there, too.

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Posted in business, leadership, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


Regional reform explained, animated and in less than 90 seconds

30.04.2013

I’ve already had my say on regional reform but I’d like to encourage everyone else to. I favour Wellington including Wairarapa, as I’ve outlined earlier, but regardless of what I say, it’s important to hear from as many people in our region as possible. And if you don’t like my long blog posts, above is a great animation summarizing a lot of the relevant issues, produced by my friends at Mohawk Media.
   After you’ve watched it, head over to this form to put in your thoughts. Only three answers need a bit of writing—the rest is clicking buttons. Submissions close May 3.

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Posted in New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 2 Comments »


Bridging the Rimutaka divide: Wellington needs Wairarapa

26.04.2013

In an interview today, the subject of regional reform and amalgamation came up. There’s quite a good site already seeking feedback on the process, and I’ve taken part in a 2012 forum on the subject as well.
   In 2010, the mood in Wellington, based on those I met in the campaign, seemed to be set against amalgamation. There were some suspicions, and I have to say I was among them: I could not understand how a Herald headline could proclaim it was going ahead when the article beneath simply stated that the Royal Commission had recommended the “super-city” as one of its options.
   But, as John Shewan told me before his retirement from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Auckland has found some real savings through amalgamation, wearing an apolitical accountant’s hat in his analysis.
   In the 2012 forum, the opposition to merger seemed weaker. There were many who were concerned at the loss of representation—we had been taught that flat management structures are more efficient, and this seemed to go against that instinct. However, some felt that amalgamation made sense—but of those, the Wairarapa seemed to be another world, and that maybe we should let them do their own thing.
   I have been wondering about the opposition to the Wairarapa being part of a larger Wellington. I know people there, and they don’t think much of grabbing train ride south to head into town. It’s less of an obstacle to come here than to, say, Napier, which is where some of the people at the 2012 forum felt it had a closer kinship to. In the times I’ve been north of the Rimutaka divide and talked to locals, I can’t say they feel that.
   The concern among those in Wellington might be driven by geography. That’s not an easy road to drive. I’ve seen Shaker Run. And does that mentally stop us from embracing the Wairarapa as readily as we should? Sure, we love those Martinborough wines, but isn’t it such a trek?
   Yet when you look on a map, Lake Ferry, which you can only get to via the Wairarapa, is far closer to us than anywhere else. Good luck telling a foreign visitor—or even an investor—that that’s not part of our region. And when I think of Martinborough and Wellington, I can’t help but draw a parallel with Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. It just seems a natural fit when it comes to marketing a region, and that if we’re saying that Wellington loves diversity, then is it so hard to accept a rural component right next door to us?
   But here’s why my thinking is really leaning toward inclusiveness: New Zealand’s industry is still largely primary products-based. People like me can talk all we like about growing our technological and creative sectors, and that is still something to aim for. We still need to do it. However, it won’t happen overnight. Right now, and even for the next generation, we’d be mugs to discount the Wairarapa’s rural base because that’s an important part of our economy. We also need to consider the land out there, too, and help make use of it effectively at a macroeconomic level. If people want reform, and if that includes merging councils, then I think we’d be poorer without the Wairarapa as part of Wellington.
   Our GDP, as it is, isn’t great: in fact, The Dominion Post revealed earlier this week that Wellington city’s GDP is flat. I did predict this in 2010 and said that we needed to nurture businesses properly.
   Is it, then, a change of mindset that we need? We can already see how the Bay Area in California is marketed: there are bridges to take those from the City northward to Napa and Sonoma. We have a less than ideal road and a rail link, both of which are being improved. With more Wellingtonians focusing on the work–life balance and enjoying everything from Toast to the air shows, those old “them and us” attitudes seem to be waning anyway. Maybe it’ll just take a different type of marketing to feel closer to our Wairarapa cousins?
   At the end of the day, it should be up to the people to decide. However, if we are to do so, then we must have all the facts. Right now, I’m not alone with these thoughts: this website outlines even more reasons the Wairarapa should stay with Wellington. And the Palmer report noted last year, ‘We believe Wairarapa to be an important part of the Wellington region and that its future prosperity would be adversely affected were it cut off from the region.’ I’d be happy to host a discussion—either here, on my Facebook group where your thoughts are welcome in refining my mayoral campaign manifesto on this website, or, if schedules allow, offline.

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Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 1 Comment »