Porirua road safety funding halved

Last updated 15:26 20/11/2012

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The frequency of children being struck by cars will rise again if the city's road safety co-ordinator has to endure further funding cuts, says a Porirua city councillor.

Litea Ah Hoi said it was "embarrassing" that Mark Kairua's work in the community could be hamstrung by the NZ Transport Agency almost halving its funding for the city's road safety programme after a recent review.

She raised the issue at a council meeting and said Mr Kairua's valuable work has come into focus since Junior Ianuali was hit and killed by a car on October 26.

"Porirua East used to have a very high rate of children being knocked over by cars but this has come right back in the last few years.

"Much of that is down to the things Mark does.

"By NZTA withdrawing funding, it just puts more of our young ones at risk.

"As a council which has done a lot for road safety in the past, we need to let NZTA know that this situation isn't good enough."

Under the Government's Safer Journeys programme, places such as Rimutaka and Manakau, which get more road deaths, are allotted more funding. Places such as Porirua, which until this month had gone three years without a road death, in turn are to see funding cut.

Porirua City Council will get $240,000 in the next three years from the agency for its road safety programme - $200,000 less than in the previous triennium.

The transport agency's central region director Jenny Chetwynd said the money it allocated to councils is calculated on a risk basis and "demonstrable benefits" consistent with Safer Journeys.

There was now more of a focus on high-need areas, Ms Chetwynd said.

Mr Kairua's salary - about $50,000 - is paid from the council's budget.

"We appreciate the disappointment of PCC but the reality is ... we need to direct the bulk of it to communities which have a worse road safety record," said Ms Chetwynd.

"We are saddened by the death of Junior Ianuali and we are confident the funding we are providing will help PCC provide targeted safety programmes to prevent future tragedies like this."

Mr Kairua said budget discussions with the agency were continuing and the $240,000 was likely to be confirmed this month.

He would continue to deliver the best road safety initiatives he could.

"I'm still holding the regular talks in schools, doing things like helping Papakowhai School with their walking bus and working with the [Porirua] Vikings on our road safety campaign," Mr Kairua said.

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"I am looking at alternative funding avenues as well, and I do very much appreciate the funding I do get from the council."

Before Junior Ianuali, the last fatality on Porirua's roads was in 2010.

Four people died each year in 2009 and 2008.

Ms Ah Hoi, whose son was hit by a car several years ago, said it was heart-breaking looking at Junior's coffin, and it put things like budgets into perspective.

"I sat with the family and felt that as a councillor we didn't do enough.

"I hate pointing the finger at NZTA but I think it needs to be aware that parts of Porirua need more investment in terms of road safety measures and education through someone like Mark."

- Kapi-Mana News


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