Editorial: Speak up for Picton

Last updated 10:42 08/02/2013
Picton foreshore
Jared Nicoll

People relax on the Picton foreshore

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‘You can't just stop progress to save a town," he said. "Towns start for a reason and when the reason for the town to exist goes, then the towns dwindle and disappear."

The speaker was radio talk-show host and television documentary frontman Marcus Lush, who was commenting in an online video blog about the future of Picton under the Government proposal to move the interisland ferry port away from the town to Clifford Bay.

His conclusion isn't a hard one to reach. It's pretty obvious. When the reason for a town disappears - such as coal or gold - the town risks disappearing as well.

But Picton is more than a place like that. It was founded as a sea port. The interisland ferry service eventually became a central part of the town, but not the only part. Lush acknowledged that.

"So goodbye to the ferry and hello to a better, nicer, lovelier and more serene ferry-less Picton," he said.

The town will not shrivel and die like a coalmining town. It has many reasons to exist - almost as many reasons as there are people living there.

If the Government does take away the ferry port - and all the indicators are suggesting it will happen - Picton will have to focus on its other attributes; it will bleed over ferry-related job losses and the like, but it can come back stronger.

While Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and his officials have shown little interest in discussing the future and refuse to release the impact reports they have tucked away, it is not time to give up. If the town decides it wants at least one tourist ferry a day from Wellington and seed funding to redevelop the rail yards as a marina, then it will take a fight.

Whether or not the Marlborough District Council have signed a gagging agreement with the officials, they have to be a voice for the region.

They are starting the process next week by holding four public meetings to find out what people think and want. Not to react to the Marcus Lushes of the world, but to look ahead and suggest options.

The meetings are at Picton on Monday, Seddon and Blenheim on Tuesday and Havelock on Wednesday. They are an opportunity to have a say. Let's use it. Let's have the venues full of the people who care and have something to offer.

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- The Marlborough Express

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