Call for reports on port shift to be released
Marlborough people needed more information to understand the Government's reasons for wanting to shift the Cook Strait ferry port from Picton to Clifford Bay, Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said yesterday.
He said "on the face of it" building a $422 million port south of Seddon for $7m a year in port fees was not an acceptable return, and the community needed to know more about what was behind that.
"The community has a clear expectation of more information, given what appears to be a complete lack of an acceptable business case and the major implications for our region. We want to clearly understand the business case and what are ramifications for Marlborough. That's a reasonable request."
The chamber hosted a members-only meeting attended by about 46 people on Tuesday night to discuss the Government's proposal to shift the port from Picton.
It is understood that many of the people at the meeting had made Official Information Act requests of Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee and the Ministry of Transport for the information Cabinet ministers considered when they decided to push ahead with the Clifford Bay proposal. All requests have been refused.
Mr Dawson said people were keen for more information, particularly from the Government. They especially wanted the Deloittes report, which assessed a business case for the move, and the Covec report, which assessed the economic impact on Picton and Marlborough. "We are very keen to have that vital information available to the community that is going to be most affected."
The message from the meeting was "We want to know more", he said.
The Marlborough District Council is to consider whether to host public meetings with a professional facilitator early next year to draw out information from the community about the effects of the Clifford Bay proposal.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said each of the communities directly affected in Marlborough should have the opportunity to get together and discuss the impact of a significant shift in traffic flows that would result from moving the ferries to Clifford Bay.
The meetings would be the first step in convincing the Government to come up with financial assistance to Marlborough to cope with the effects of moving the port to Clifford Bay.
Mr Dawson said the chamber was supportive of those facilitated meetings and was planning to play an active part.
It would be strongly encouraging members and business community to come along and be part of it, he said. "The focus is not just in Picton and the surrounding area, but throughout Marlborough and beyond. The likes of Nelson also need to be well engaged in these talks. Nelson and outlying areas are going to be strongly affected by these changes and they need to be closely involved."
Mr Dawson said he expected councillors to be in favour of the public meetings and for the chamber to be strongly involved.
- The Marlborough Express
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