Clifford Bay meetings next week

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 15:57 07/02/2013

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Businesses should do their homework and come to the public meetings on the proposed shift to Clifford Bay fully prepared with what the move might mean for them, a business representative says.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said next week's meetings facilitated by the Marlborough District Council were important for the chamber's membership.

Members were strongly encouraged to attend and to be well-prepared, he said.

"Rather than just turn up and see what they think about Clifford Bay then, we are getting members to think beforehand about what they think of the proposal and how it would affect their businesses so they go to the meetings well-armed.

"When the facilitator asks questions, our members will be well-prepared to take part."

Mr Dawson said the proposed shift of the interisland port from Picton to Clifford Bay south of Seddon was a critical issue for the region and it was very important the views of business are clearly understood.

The chamber was trying to meet Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee before his speech in Blenheim on March 8, he said.

"We want to impress upon him that business, through the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, needs to be involved as a key stakeholder in discussions to be held on Clifford Bay.

"It is certainly important that he understands the social, economic, cultural and financial impacts on Marlborough. Ultimately, there needs to be a plan for how we replace the GDP that would be lost in any shift."

The issue was a top of the South Island one, not just one for Marlborough, Mr Dawson said. The chamber had engaged with its counterpart in Nelson, and the top of the south councils were talking about it too, he said. "Nelson, Tasman, the West Coast, they are all affected by it as well."

Mayor Alistair Sowman said on Tuesday that the Government emphasised the first stage of work was on the financial feasibility of the project. Any impact on Marlborough would be assessed after that.

However, he said, it was important to begin the task of assembling information on the impact on businesses and communities at local level even though the Government was still in the early fact-finding stage itself.

"This will be a central government decision but we do want to make sure that council can relay to those politicians an authoritative report on the regional impact; both the upside and the downside of such a decision."

As a first step, Mr Sowman said a report to the council would be prepared from public feedback received at the four public meetings next week. Meetings organised by the council:

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● Monday, February 11, at 7pm, Queen Charlotte College hall, Picton.

● Tuesday, February 12, 12 noon, Awatere Memorial Hall, Seddon.

● Tuesday, February 12, 7pm, Marlborough Convention Centre, Blenheim.

● Wednesday, February 13, 12 noon, Havelock Hall, Havelock.

- The Marlborough Express

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