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Nick Mills: Wellington is in a downward spiral and we're in trouble

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OPINION: Some disturbing news came across my desk yesterday.

I got a lovely email from Nicola Cranfield with the sad news that Cranfield’s on Johnson St near Lambton Quay is closing.  

Often shops close during a recession and unpredictable times.  

Shops close because they go broke.  

Businesses close when owners have just had enough. 

But Cranfield’s has been operating in Wellington for 33 years and reading Nicola Cranfield’s email really affected me.  

Nicola has fought endlessly against Let's Get Wellington Moving and the Golden Mile project. She's met with counsellors, she's met with businesses, she's gone to every meeting she possibly could have gone to, just to fight the cause to save Lambton Quay from both Let's Get Wellington Moving and the Golden Mile project. 

She's had the acrimony of presenting to Wellington City Council with councillors not even looking her in the eye, looking down at their devices not caring what she has to say.,not caring what she and her mother had done for our city over 33 years. Absolutely no respect whatsoever. 

But that didn't stop Nicola from fighting. 

That didn't stop Nicola from being a proud Wellingtonian wanting her successful family business to carry on against all the distractions and inconvenience that was thrown at her by those two major projects and our council. 

Things got so frustrating for her that she decided that she would not renew her long term lease and go month to month. 

Unfortunately for us in Wellington it didn’t work for Nicola Cranfield and her shop is closing.  

A Wellington institution gone, just like that. 

It’s interesting Nicola is not blaming or even bringing into the equation the public sector job losses due to government cuts. 

I've met Nicola a few times she's the most positive, bright, energetic and focused businesswoman you could ever expect to meet. 

She’s someone you talk to and say to yourself ‘gosh aren't we lucky to have a person like that running a business in our city’. 

Well no longer; she joins the long list of fabulous Wellingtonians who ran amazing businesses that got caught up in the downward spiral and are out… 

An article in the Herald today from Thomas Coughlan, outlining the effects and breaking down the job losses by numbers is very interesting.  

It shows it's more of a self-perpetuating downhill spiral than actual cash disappearing from the community. 

People that haven't lost their job still have the disposable income to spend - they’re just adjusting and being extremely careful. 

Even last night I met a couple who hadn’t lost their jobs, still had disposable income and they felt guilty for going out. It felt wrong to them, with everything going on.  

Our city is in a bad place, and no, it's not just because of these public service cuts, which much of us would agree are needed to some extent.  

No, its a wider issue. It’s an economy on the slump, it's a council that doesn’t seem to understand the big issues, its uncertainty over projects like the Golden Mile.  

I love this city, I love it a lot - but Wellington doesn’t feel like it did five, ten or twenty years ago. 

We’re in a slump, we’re in a spiral - and I think most of us know it. 


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