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The Press-News column June 11

Locking Down the City.

Does the re-created Christchurch really want to aspire to have a neutered nightlife? If the Timothy-try-too-hards win the day, Christchurch after dark will be barely less dreary than Dipton, with a nightlife verve to rival Canberra’s. A coma. The proposal to ban entry to inner-city bars at 1am is knee-capping nonsense. One-way door policies do not work. First trialled in Christchurch 7 years ago, it failed to achieve the stated goal of reducing crime by 10%. Most one-way policies, or lockdowns as they’re called in Australia, have been disbanded due to their ineffectiveness. You only have to look at the madness that ensued in Christchurch, over Easter, with the midnight shutdowns triggering mass-disorder on the streets. The city council should focus its sights on the pre-loading pumping stations, namely takeaway booze outlets. Foodstuffs has sensibly shelved its plans to plonk a bottle store next to its sparkly new St. Martins supermarket, until after the city’s alcohol policy is finalised. Residents are understandably riled by the wanton proliferation in off-license outlets – and their trading hours. Restricting takeaway sales to 9am-9pm makes sense. The bullying bluster from the supermarket barons, who are threatening to close all their supermarkets if they can’t sell booze, should be steered down.

More Bucks.

The protracted negogiations between the government and  council over the rebuild funding gap continues to delay finalising the city’s Three Year Plan, which already looks frail. Much of the council’s capital programme is predicted on receiving optimistic insurance payouts. Shortly after our seismic storm first erupted, Mayor Parker hastily  reassured ratepayers that their pockets were safe, “as the city’s assets were comprehensively insured.” In hindsight, the rhetoric was a classic case of all flaps, but no propeller. Not only were many assets chronically underinsured, but the imbroglio between Civic Assurance and their reinsurers leaves a $850 million hole yet to be filled and hanging in the balance. Would the city be in this pickle, if the above-ground assets had been comprehensively insured and left with NZI? Without those forecast payouts, we’re really in the chutney.

Moore Buck 2.0

So Vicki Buck and Garry Moore are considering a City Hall comeback.  As a prospective councillor, Buck would bolt back into office. But  Moore’s mayoral legacy was a mixed bag, so he’d be no sure bet. It’s cute that Moore is now dead against the partial sale of the port, airport or power company, when during his last term as mayor, alongside CCHL’s Bob Lineham,  he feverishly championed hocking off a 50.1%  stake in the Lyttelton Port Company to the Chinese giant, Hutchison Whampoa. There are some key attributes that I’m looking for in the formation of the next city council. Pragmatic problem-solvers, independent exponents of robust debate and fiscal disciplinarians. Because every dollar will count.

( Published in The Press. June 11.)

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