Wellington Mayor Justin Lester plays down 'toxic council'
Wellington has a new Mayor, after the election of Justin Lester - but questions remain over whether he will be able to overcome the bitter infighting and disorganisation that has blighted the region's council.
Over the past year, the Wellington City Council has been described as "toxic", even by its own Councillors. Most of those Councillors have been re-elected - and Mr Lester says he will work with them for the benefit of Wellington.
"It's a clean slate, for a start," he smiles.
"I'm a new Mayor, I've got great relationships with all the existing Councillors, and I know all of the incoming Councillors too."
Mr Lester hit out at the allegations of disunity, which have plagued the council over its previous term.
"I think the 'toxic council' thing is a little bit overblown," he says. "Ninety-five percent of our decisions were unanimous on council."
Mr Lester believes his personal relationships with the Councillors will help bridge the divides.
"Personally I get on with all the Councillors really well. I think I've shown over the last six years that I can lead the council, and will do that as Mayor," he says emphatically.
"We'll have robust debates still - but we'll make sure it's positive, and in the best interests of Wellington."