There have been more last-minute changes to the Dunedin
City Council's draft transport strategy after another fiery
debate that brought allegations of political grandstanding
The verbal volleys came as the council's hearings
subcommittee - headed by chairwoman Cr Kate Wilson - made the
surprise decision to reconvene yesterday to continue
deliberations on the draft strategy.
The subcommittee had signed off the draft last week, despite
heated opposition from committee member Cr Lee Vandervis at
the time, and it had been expected the document would be
presented to the full council on September 23.
However, a week of tit-for-tat emails between Cr Vandervis,
his subcommittee colleagues and council staff over the
draft's wording resulted in the latest batch of changes
considered in public yesterday.
That led to Cr Vandervis angrily locking horns with Cr
Wilson and committee members Crs Jinty MacTavish, Andrew Noone
and Teresa Stevenson, as well as council staff, over the
The draft strategy outlined planned improvements to the
city's transport network over the next 30 years, primarily
aimed at improving road safety, but including everything from
new cycleways to an eastern freight bypass.
However, Cr Vandervis alleged yesterday the strategy had been
hijacked by an anti-car agenda and was an assault on
motorists, and pushed for numerous changes to water down the
He repeated an earlier call for the strategy to be abandoned,
saying the draft was based on false assumptions, lacked
evidence and ignored reality.
Motor vehicles were getting cheaper to run, petrol prices
were not rising, and commuters were safer in their cars than
on bikes or walking, but all that was ignored by the
strategy, he insisted.
''We need to scrap this document. We need to start again.''
Other councillors and staff disagreed, and the meeting
degenerated into almost farcical scenes when Cr Stevenson
accused Cr Vandervis of ignoring submissions and
''hijacking'' the hearing for ''political grandstanding''.
As Cr MacTavish put her head down and Cr Wilson struggled to
restore calm, Cr Vandervis repeatedly called for points of
order while insisting: ''The political grandstanding [claim]
The running battles continued as the subcommittee went
through the draft document line by line, agreeing to some of
Cr Vandervis' changes while disagreeing, and outvoting him,
Among the changes, references to providing for safe transport
options ''other than cars'' was amended to ''in addition to
cars'', after Cr Vandervis insisted the original wording
''betrays the agenda ... that's behind much of this
A reference to ample parking in the city was changed to note
issues around Dunedin Hospital and the university.
The document would also in future be known as the integrated
transport strategy, to reflect the fact it included the
previously separate pedestrian, cycling and parking
strategies, she said.
The updated draft would still be presented to the full
council on September 23.