Public concern accepted

TAO LIN
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013
Mangere Motorway
Fairfax NZ
PROGRESS: Respect Our Community Campaign chairman Roger Fowler has welcomed the acknowledgement of community concerns and is willing to work with authorities to find the best solution.

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Campaigners rallying against plans for a possible new motorway through Mangere and Otahuhu have welcomed a "change of heart" from Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

But lots more work still needs to be done, the Respect Our Community Campaign says.

The transport agencies have acknowledged the concerns of communities affected by plans to build a new roading link to transport freight faster between East Tamaki and Onehunga.

Areas affected include Mangere, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Penrose and East Tamaki, which the agencies describe as "Auckland's industrial heartland and a major freight distribution hub".

The agencies are now appealing to the communities to work with them to find the best solution.

Auckland Transport key agency initiatives group manager Rick Walden says the original approach of consulting with local boards and "key stakeholders" before talking to the wider community "is flawed".

"We've sensed a growing concern in the communities about this approach and acknowledge that we should have engaged the wider community from the start," he says.

"We've heard what people have to say and we are responding to that immediately."

Mr Walden says the next step will be to meet with community leaders, schools and the Respect Our Community Campaign.

Its chairman Roger Fowler says he hopes discussions will now move forward towards other transport options.

"If this change of heart is a genuine move, NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will need to drop all preparations for East-West motorway construction and start afresh with genuine, open consultation with the community," he says.

He has been campaigning against the proposals since October and launched a petition against the motorway options. He presented Mangere MP Su'a William Sio with the 4246-signature document on November 30.

Mr Sio says the communities have been treated poorly and the transport agencies' acknowledgement of concerns has been "last minute".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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