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Shift will 'rip guts out of Picton'

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 07:56 14/02/2013
Kobus Mentz
Kat Pickford

Urban design consultant Kobus Mentz addresses the group of 30 people who turned out to air their views on the proposed Clifford Bay ferry terminal at the Havelock town hall yesterday

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Havelock people are concerned that the Government is overlooking the social and cultural impacts of shifting the ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay.

About 30 people attended a meeting at the Havelock town hall yesterday to give their views on the Government proposal to move the interisland ferry terminal to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon.

It was the last in a series of four public meetings in Marlborough this week organised by the Marlborough District Council. The earlier meetings were in Picton, Seddon and Blenheim.

Ngati Kuia community development manager Raymond Smith called for strong leadership from Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman, saying the Government did not have Marlborough's interests in mind.

"I'm mainly concerned about the social and cultural impacts of the move.

"People are going to move out of our communities to look for work. It will rip the guts out of Picton because people will always go where the money is."

He thought Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's suggestion that Picton become the next Queenstown was "flippant" and "disgusting".

"What a joke - Queenstown has three skifields and an international airport," he said.

A speaker at an earlier meeting had also commented that if Picton was going to be another Queenstown, it would have happened already.

"We will have until 2020 to grapple with the social implications of the move," Mr Smith said. "Picton will survive - it will just depend on what we do."

Former urban planner Kees van der Linden said the Government had the wrong focus.

"The Government's objectives seem to be very narrowly looking at the economic aspects without considering the impact on the wider community," he said.

"It's the wrong way round."

Mr Sowman said the region would rely on Kaikoura MP Colin King to tell the Government what Marlborough felt about the proposal.

Mr King was at the meetings in Picton and Blenheim, but not at Havelock yesterday or in Seddon on Tuesday.

Mr Sowman said the community meetings had been called to gauge how the decision would affect the region and to gather feedback from Marlborough people to put to the Government.

Urban design consultant Kobus Mentz, who chaired the meetings, said Marlborough needed to move quickly to get on side with the specialist team formed to test the commercial viability of the Clifford Bay terminal.

The group would be reporting to Mr Brownlee mid-year and Marlborough people urgently needed to put their case, he said.

"You don't have time to not start thinking about influencing decisions and how the Government can help ease affected parties. But there is time to think about how you want to reposition yourselves for the future if the decision is made."

Despite uncertainty and frustration at the Government's refusal to discuss the plans or release investigative reports, Havelock business owners seemed to be looking for the positives of the Clifford Bay proposal.

Submissions can be made to include in the report to the council by February 25. They can be emailed to clifford.bay@marlborough.govt.nz or discussed with co-ordinator Jamie Lyall at the council.

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- The Marlborough Express

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