Future of Wellington Citizens Advice Bureau no longer in jeopardy

Wellington City Council has done a U-turn on its recommendation to cut guaranteed funding to support service Citizens Advice Bureau and evict them from three offices to make way for a mobile service, in a unanimous vote this morning.

The Council has decided to give Citizens Advice Bureau $210, 787 in funding for one year, with funding for the second and third year to be decided as part of a review. That's the same amount it has received annually for the last three years.

Two weeks ago, the Grants subcommittee recommended the information and advice service receive a $103,500 one-off grant with no guaranteed funding after that, as well as asking CAB to become a mobile service. It was recommended that CAB be evicted from three council spaces including the most popular CAB Wellington central library office.

The organisation's trained volunteers give people advice and information in a range of areas such as tenancy, employment, immigration and budgeting. It also offer Justice of the Peace services.

Councillor Brian Dawson previously said the council was concerned the service wasn't reaching people in Wellington's most vulnerable suburbs, and questioned whether other organisations were already providing the same services as CAB.

Citizens Advice Bureau's national chief executive Kerry Dalton had argued the six month time period to find a sustainable future for the organisation was not enough time and there hadn't been clear communication with the council over its plans. Ms Dalton had said need for the service has only increased and there was no evidence it was not working effectively.

A petition with thousands of signatures voting against the proposal was handed over via email at a full council meeting today.

Wellington Citizens Advice Bureau area manager Lucy Trevelyan said the decision voted on today was not a win for the organisation, but would allow it to keep helping those in the community and work on a plan to continue getting funding through making changes to the organisation.

"When the future of your organisation relies on grants in order to provide services to the community, it's important to have as much certainty as possible," she said in a statement.

"The new plan will give us the space to consider how CAB can continue to best deliver for the needs of Wellingtonians going forward."

Of the outcome, Councillor Brian Dawson said a review of the service by council and CAB was in everyone's best interests.

"We will need to identify any gaps in existing services and explore ways to fill these gaps," he said in a statement.

"We want to try and make sure youth, refugees, social housing tenants and those in areas of need such as Strathmore and Linden will be covered by services."

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman questioned whether the organisation had approached the Government for increased funding.

Chief executive Kerry Dalton said central government provides funding for its national organisation, the majority of which is for its internet service and training.

Dr Ramona Tiatia from the University of Otago Wellington's Public Health Department also presented a petition to council today and said she was glad the fire's putting the CAB under attack "are starting to recede".

Ms Tiatia said the service was an important link for Pasifika and new migrants, who otherwise would have to use mainstream services which often aren't useful.

She said 14,000 Pasifika people use the service annually, of which 80 per cent were walk-in enquiries.

The review of the Wellington Citizens Advice Bureau service will be presented to Council early next year.

Citizens Advice Bureau has faced funding cuts to a number of offices around the country in recent years. 

The council is considering changes for the community service.
Citizens Advice Bureau Source: 1 NEWS



Drugged driving fatalities now outnumber drink driving deaths in New Zealand

More fatal road crashes last year involved drugged drivers than drunk drivers, figures obtained by the Automobile Association (AA) reveal.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Last year, 79 fatal crashes involved a driver with drugs in their system, compared with 70 involving an intoxicated driver.

In 2016, 59 fatal crashes involved a drugged driver and 67 involved alcohol. The figures come from testing that is done by authorities following a fatal crash.

"The AA has called drugged driving a silent killer on our roads for years and these latest figures confirm how prevalent drugs are in fatal crashes," Dylan Thomsen, AA road safety spokesperson, said.

"No one wants someone who is high driving towards their family at 100km/h but right now the chances of being caught drugged driving is tiny. We have to change that."

The association is repeating its call for the introduction of random roadside drugs testing.

Excluding alcohol, the two most commonly detected individual drugs were cannabis and P.

The cases of P being detected had shot up in recent years, and a range of other drugs and medications that impair driving also feature in the results, the AA said.

Dylan Thomsen said saliva-based testing kits should be used. They detect common illict drugs including cannabis, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.

At present police have to have strong cause to suspect drug use and then take the driver to a police station for a 'walk-and-turn' test.

"The current system almost needs a driver to be sitting in the car with drugs on the seat next to them to get tested," Mr Thomsen said.

"The saliva testing devices being used in many other countries would be much faster and allow many more potentially drug impaired drivers to be tested than the current approach."

The AA believes the increase in drugged-driving figures this year is probably due to more thorough testing being done following crashes.

Driving (file picture).
Driving (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Wellington sets goal of becoming 'Te Reo Māori' city by 2040

A vision to make Wellington a Te Reo Māori city by 2040 has been unanimously voted in by Wellington City Council.

Mayor Justin Lester stated in Te Tauihu, the council's Te Reo Māori policy, that this is a public statement of it's commitment to revitalising te reo in the capital.

The year set for the goal to be achieved is 200 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The policy will see the council give well known areas Māori names, putting a Te Reo Māori focus in community programmes, its website and services, an increase in haka and Te Reo Māori at public events, as well as using the language in committee room meetings.

Te reo will also be recognised as a desirable competency for recruitment of council staff and staff will be given the opportunity to learn te reo.

Councillor Simon Marsh said it's about embracing the country's point of difference, as we do with rugby.

"English is going to remain as the dominant language ... but as a small island nation we need to remember what is important to us," he said.

Council and members of the public gave a mighty pakipaki after the decision was voted in by all council members, before joining in a waiata.

The mayor addressed the Wellington City Council today on the city's 2040 goal. Source: 1 NEWS