On his Facebook page Christchurch councillor Jamie Gough recently wrote : 'Very happy to get this win for the city. It's all about people, people, people!'
Before we all start thinking that young Jamie will next be seen on the streets waving his red flag and singing 'The Internationale', there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
What Gough was crowing about was that the Council this week voted by 13-1 to give property developers a generous 100 per cent rebate on the contributions that apply to central city residential developments. Only Tim Carter voted against the proposal.
The rates rebate was Gough's idea (apparently) who argued that developers needed a financial incentive to build new residential units rather than offices in the central city as it was otherwise uneconomic.
Wealthy property developers will now receive up to $10 million worth of 'incentives' for building ritzy townhouses and apartments. In effect, the good people of Christchurch - including those who are still living in damaged houses and garages in the eastern suburbs- will be subsidising property developers and helping them to maintain their healthy profit margins as they flog off high-end properties to other wealthy investors, who will be the only people who'll be able to afford these central city residences.
Gough has no problems piling more debt on the good people of Christchurch, already in danger of being burdened with the cost of a bloated sports stadium and its running costs. Not to mention the running costs of another white elephant in the making - called the Death Star by many local people but otherwise referred to as the Convention Centre.
But while Gough is more than keen to help out his rich mates, he does have a serious problem with helping the poor. He opposed allocating $50 million to what would of been an enlightened social housing project.
The Council voted against it - 10 votes to four.
The suddenly frugal Jamie Gough said he could not countenance placing an extra economic burden on the people of Christchurch
Said Gough: “Everyone is struggling. Everyone in this city has been to hell and back. The answer is not to load everyone up with extra debt.”
Well, its unlikely that Jamie Gough and his mates are 'struggling' and have 'been to hell and back' and his hypocrisy is truly breathtaking. He has absolutely no qualms about placing further financial burden on the people of Christchurch to help out wealthy property developers but he's not okay with managing more debt if it is to help Christchurch's poor and vulnerable.
The National Business Review has described Jamie Gough as ' a city councillor who initially gave some promise as a young Turk but more latterly appears to have fallen into the conservative camp as befits his Fendalton neighbourhood. '
In 2011 he complained that Christchurch beaches were being spoilt 'by every bogan in town'. In a magazine column he said that Sumner, Taylors Mistake and Corsair Bay were 'overrun by every Dwayne and his pit-bull'.
Jamie Gough helps his uncle, Antony Gough, run his property empire, Hereford Holdings. Among other properties, Hereford Holdings owns the Oxford Street strip of restaurants, bars and shops. They are presently awaiting redevelopment.
Jamie is the son of property developer Tracy Gough who also owns several central city properties.