Let’s Get Wellington Moving has spent more money on designing a new website for its latest round of consultation than it has on actual construction.
Details of how much LGWM has spent on the likes of website development, video production and communications staff since the project’s conception in 2015 have been revealed through written parliamentary questions.
The estimated cost of LGWM’s new engagement website is $130,000, which is more than the $123,000 spent on construction activities as of the end of September.
Wellington-based National list MP Nicola Willis said it showed LGWM has become a talk fest.
“It’s completely stalled, it’s become an empty vehicle more focused on websites, events and engagements than on actually putting spades and diggers in the ground.
“I think what Wellingtonians want is to actually see transport improvements not another set of visualisations about what the future might contain.”
LGWM has held 10 public engagement programmes since it started.
It has hosted or scheduled, either on its own or with partner organisations, 38 public events since the establishment of the programme. Events include open days, webinars, and stalls at community events.
Meanwhile LGWM has spent $2.3 million on direct communications and engagement staff costs including permanent, fixed-term and contractors covering for vacant positions.
LGWM acting programme director David Dunlop said it was critical the community’s views informed work on a transport investment worth between $5.8 billion and $7.4 billion.
Investigation, design and approval, along with consenting and any necessary property purchases, were required before construction could begin on several projects within the plan, Dunlop said.
He said a new website was necessary to convey complex transport options, which included light rail, a second Mt Victoria tunnel and changes at the Basin Reserve.
“The existing website did not have the functionality to present this information in an easy-to-understand and visually engaging way, while handling the volume of anticipated visitors.”
He said the specialist support of communications and engagement staff was needed to gather feedback from the public and stakeholders, respond to it and use findings to inform investigation and design work on projects.
Willis likened the “endless” consultation to being stuck in a washing machine.
“The problem is, Let’s Get Wellington Moving has been consulting for year upon year and has allowed the pursuit of perfection to become the enemy of any actual progress.”
It’s estimated $175,000 has been spent on published videos for “a range of purposes” including inviting or capturing public feedback, explaining options, and illustrating projects.
In response to Willis, Transport Minister Michael Wood said he considered video an important medium to provide insight into what transport in Wellington might look like in the future.
Wood said he expected construction expenses to increase as physical works on specific projects got under way in coming weeks.
Let’s Get Wellington Moving has spent $52.6 million in total over the course of the project’s life, as of the end of September.
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