Jack Yan
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Cutting waste and keeping a lid on rates

 

I’m a ratepayer, and I’m unimpressed with how much my rates have gone up by. A lot of this is due to the opaqueness of the city.

By not being part of the entrenched system that has seen certain elements of the council hold back our city, I don’t have any baggage as other politicians might have. That means I’m gearing to get things done for all of us.

Transparency
I want to see greater transparency in our council. While my idea of webcasting council meetings wasn’t popular in 2010, I still want to make sure Wellingtonians know where our money is being spent.

That means making the council more accountable, by publishing our expenses, including those of councillors, and details of all major spending.

Costs at council
We can effect savings within the council, through prudent management of its finances and streamlining through our software packages, including bringing in open source programs where possible.

That also means getting tougher on cost overruns with council projects. I want to see an end to the culture where it’s OK to tell people that a building is going to cost $20 million and it winds up costing tens of millions more.

We need to make the preferred contractors’ lists transparent, along with the selection criteria, to encourage high standards in all our firms.

Putting public documents online
Connected to this is ensuring all public documents are put online. Why are citizens having to file Official Information Act requests for things they have a right to know about? Use the internet, get them online, make them searchable—and that way, we can cut costs in providing people with the information they need, while making the Wellington City Council far more accountable to the public.

A fairer deal for Wellingtonians
While some of the rates’ increases are already set in stone, I’ll do my best to make sure that the next plan will be fairer on Wellingtonians.

I also want to see the end of a culture which favours the same parties in our city for business—this is why those who will be promoted under my administration will be businesses that meet the criteria for job creation and become major champions for our city.

Using technology for progress

We can already use technology to send Tweets or even Instagram photos to the council when it comes to things than need repair in our city. I’ll be taking this lead and getting the service better known and more widely used, especially if it helps cut costs and delays to make Wellington better.

That same technology can be used for a more efficient resource consent approval, and move us toward a paperless system.

On a related note, the Council’s dog registration policy presently incentivizes good pet ownership through its responsible dog owner discount. I would like to see a similar policy adopted for cat owners too, where owners are incentivsed to desex and microchip their cats. Looking wider, the registration process must be as easy as possible. I’ll make sure that owners can do a good deal of this online.

Our city's assets
I want to see Wellington hold on to our assets, including water, and, where it is economically prudent for ratepayers, we should end outsourcing to foreign companies that do not pay tax in our country. Again, if it means savings for Wellington, as well as extra revenue, parking enforcement should be brought back under city management when legally permissible—the notion of a foreign company issuing fines does not sit well with the citizens I have spoken to.

If there’s a concern over our feline population, then I’ll work with citizens on looking at how we can best protect our wildlife, flora and fauna.

Earthquake strengthening

When it comes to earthquake strengthening, that’s going to be important. When I talk to property owners, some tell me that their problem isn’t coming up with the money: it’s the lag in the tendering processes and when construction companies can start on their projects. They’re too occupied with other cities. We can’t afford delays, so that will mean encouraging and facilitating smaller firms that meet high standards to work together to fix Wellington’s buildings, creating rules for them to be accountable to owners. If we need international help, as much as I want to see this work remain local, then we’ll consider it. It’s going to be a priority to make Wellington safe.

In parallel, I’ll work with councillors so we have an acceptable set of rules about when this work should begin, so we don’t get the delays we’re seeing today.

The funding options, after all, have already been done, so Wellington can move on. We can help those community buildings, too, under these. We have great data on earthquakes and engineering solutions, so why isn’t our obvious leadership in this area made into an advantage? Wellington can lead the debate, employing smart technologies for engineering, and provide our expertise nationally and internationally—if only we had the will to do so. I’ll lead the charge on this as it should not be an ongoing issue when the hard yards have already been done by council officers.

A more efficient council
The way council is run means endless meetings and mistrust with the culture it presently has. By voting in someone with no political ties to the establishment, there is no favouritism—and a culture of trust can be created. That means letting the right councillors administer the portfolios they are most passionate about, and insist on plain-English reporting at all levels so all Wellingtonians can have easy access to information about council decisions, especially online. If citizens can see transparently what their elected officials are doing, then we will watch ourselves—and we can reduce the frequency of meetings that councillors themselves have, and let them get on with their jobs instead of fighting with their own. There are good examples of open government that we can adopt and improve on.

In 2010, I said we should ensure that council organizations get to work together more. There’s not sufficient dialogue between various these organizations, so it’s no wonder the messaging is inconsistent. Two logical ones that should work more closely together, to get our city’s brand right, are Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington. I’ll work with their CEOs to create a cultural change, especially when marketing our city.

A better relationship between council and its officers
There needs to be a change of internal culture, something I have had some experience on from the consulting world. Wellington, in the 2010s, needs to be very focused and very directed toward progress, and that can only be done if citizens, council staff and the council itself are united. That needs to come from the top, and from the inside.

Prioritizing our spending
These savings, and the job growth, can help drive down this city’s debt—and we can then begin to invest in things that we need, such as funding arts, infrastructure (including housing for those of us who need a leg up), and entrepreneurial programmes for Wellingtonians.

 



 

Manifesto
Growing our economy
Cutting waste and keeping a lid on our rates
Uniting Wellingtonians