Newly-elected Greater Wellington regional councillors will choose their new chairperson within the next couple of weeks, with the competition reportedly down to two frontrunners.
It’s understood returning councillors Daran Ponter and Roger Blakeley are in a two-way battle to take over from outgoing chair Chris Laidlaw ahead of the council’s first meeting on October 30.
Ponter and Blakeley both retained their Wellington City seats in Saturday’s election, in which six first-time councillors were voted in.
My preference would be Ponter, even though he is Labour.
Personally I hoped all the incumbents would be dumped, so there would be accountability for the busatrophe but Ponter was arguably the least bad Councillor of those standing again. He was one of the few to constantly front up and listen.
Blakeley said he would also focus on fixing Wellington City’s bus network, with possible initiatives such as ensuring bus drivers were paid a minimum of $25 an hour.
How much would regional rates increase to fund that? Already increases of 15% are rumoured. 20%? 25%? No politician should propose a policy without telling us what the cost would be.
Unlike new Wellington Mayor Andy Foster, he was sure the business case for a mass transit system would stack up.
Few things worse than confidence unsupported by facts.
The Regional Council has already costed a light rail system. The BCR (benefit to cost ratio) was a miniscule 0.05. Not 0.5 but 0.05. So every $1,000 spent would produce $50 of benefits.
Even if you could come up with some magic route that say tripled the benefits, you’d still have a BCR of 0.15 at best.