Day three - 5pm implosion

There is a point on the afternoon of day three of an annual plan hearing where even the very best, most well-exercised brains begin a sort of intellectual implosion.

At that point, the minds of most patient and polite people become so clogged with facts, figures, and the stunning overuse of the word "incentivisation" they can no longer function. Or remain patient and polite. At the hearing yesterday, that point arrived about 5pm. But more on that later.

The hearings started well. Decent people with their hearts in the right place filed in and out of the Fullwood Room to tell the council their concerns.

They were concerned about playgrounds; they were worried about the privatisation of water; they were very concerned that fluoride might be doing us all terrible, terrible damage.

Some of them wanted money: money to fix things; or make things better, or to prop up musical ensembles of various types that sing or blow trumpets or make noises that are essential to the wellbeing of the city.

Some were certain John Wilson Ocean Dr should be closed, while others were just as certain it should be open.

Some were certain the council was little short of a cabal of financial charlatans leading us all to the gates of economic oblivion, and nothing short of a full investigation could root out the endemic corruption eating away at the city's insides.

As day three proceeded, sustainability, bus shelter maintenance, cycleways, parking, heritage and libraries - all were wheeled under the fluorescent lights and given a good airing.

And when things went awry, to be fair, they only went slightly awry.

It is hard to apportion blame, but two aspects of the event frayed nerves. The first was the habit of some submitters to read their submissions word for word in a monotone. The second was what some were reading.

The idea of focused growth strategies for important revitalisation in wider district plan reviews underpinning the work of contributing documents to review design policies to better accommodate pedestrians for a documented absence of current or future need while identifying development and management for an area with a range of integrated disciplines including urban design, transportation, infrastructure and utility upgrades sounds interesting early in the day. Honest.

But by 4.55pm the Fullwood room can begin to swim before one's eyes.

When Lars Grau came to tell the council they should open the old railway tunnels from Dunedin to Mosgiel, he made the mistake of complaining he had just five minutes to do so.

Mayor Dave Cull, normally a well measured man, appeared to have finally had enough.

"I'm telling you now you have five minutes," he told Mr Grau.

"You can use it to moan, or you can speak to your submission."

A clearly less-than-happy Mr Grau bit his tongue, and spoke to his submission.

Not long after, about 30-odd hours of submissions came to an end, leaving councillors the next few days to ponder their responses, before deliberations begin on Wednesday.

Our elected representatives are, of course, expected to read the 700 or 800 submissions that were not backed up by a personal visit by their writers.

"I thank you for your perseverance," Mr Cull told his troops.



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