Mayor calls for 'Covec' report to be made public

The Government does not have enough information to assess the economic impact on Marlborough of moving the ferry port, according to Kaikoura MP Colin King.

Referring to the report compiled by consultants Covec last year on the proposed move of the interisland port from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, Mr King said a more in-depth study was needed.

"At that particular time, the region was not all that aware of the implications and I think, as this thing rolls on, then the impact will become clearer" he said.

On Friday, Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman called on Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee to release the Covec report to the public. He said he was concerned that the Government had underestimated the economic impact of a move to Clifford Bay on the Picton economy in particular.

"There seems to be an assumption within Government that Picton will be able to transform itself into a Queenstown of the top of the south.

"However, Picton has to rely on a summer tourism season only and Marlborough lacks critical infrastructure such as an international airport compared to Queenstown."

The Marlborough District Council is holding public meetings on February 11 and 12 to discuss the impact of a move to Clifford Bay on the region.

"The Covec Report would be a useful resource for these meetings," Mr Sowman said.

Feedback from the meetings would be collated into a report for the council which would also be forwarded to the Government, he said.

Mr King said he saw his role very much as a conduit between the region and the minister and relaying comments.

Whether the Covec report or anything else would be released was in the minister's court, he said. He did not know the reasons for its secrecy.

"There's a vacuum of information. At the end of it, we don't know whether it's going to go ahead."

Mr King said it was good to see the mayor was asking questions, because that "does validate conversations going on to date between myself, the minister and the chamber of commerce".

He said he kept in regular contact with the chamber, as it was the voice of business. "I want to have a clear and distinct message from the region. That's best served by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and the council."

The Marlborough Express