Details sought on ferry move

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 13:22 20/12/2012

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Picton business owners feel frustrated by what they believe to be a lack of information from the Government on its research on the Clifford Bay proposal and will demand answers.

Meeting at the Mercure Picton last night, about 90 Picton business owners unanimously decided to push the Ministry of Transport to release information on the economic implications of shifting the ferry terminals away from Picton.

The ministry is yet to reveal the results of a detailed business case report which influenced Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's decision in October to ask the Ministry of Transport, Treasury and the NZ Transport Agency to assemble a specialist project team to further investigate the proposal in November.

Picton Business Group chairman Graham Gosling said the proposal was a threat to the livelihoods of many Picton business owners and they were frustrated by what they believed to be a lack of information from the Government on its research.

"No Cabinet minister or the tourism minister [Prime Minister John Key] have been prepared to front up to the Picton Business Group or the Picton community to discuss our future," he said. "The impact of this on the people of Picton has been totally underestimated.

"The cost of sacrificing Picton is just too high to get freight across [Cook] Strait a bit quicker."

Ian McNabb, chief executive of one of the largest companies in Picton, Port Marlborough, said the meeting showed agreement between business owners to co-ordinate with other groups in the region to form a clearer understanding of what they could lose.

"Picton Business Group members will write to the minister and the ministry to request information on Clifford Bay.

"We need a clearer picture on the implications on Picton and on specific businesses which will come from sharing information together and from the Government's research."

The Ministry of Transport website states the ministry intends to call for expressions of interest for financing, building and operating a ferry port at Clifford Bay in early 2014. Construction of the terminal is scheduled to start in 2016 if approved.

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- The Marlborough Express

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