Letter from the mayor : Clifford Bay

Last updated 09:54 06/02/2013

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Clifford Bay

The Government's investigation of the possibility of moving the interisland port terminal to Clifford Bay is generating confusion about the council's role in this matter.

The Minister of Transport has said it's worth looking into the viability of a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay.

Transport officials have been tasked with gathering information to see whether the project will pass its first hurdle - establishing the project's financial viability.

They are looking at things like the capital cost of the build and the operational cost of Clifford Bay and the ability of port users to pay. The future need to upgrade the port of Picton should the ferries remain is part of that calculation.

They are not looking at the wider economic impact of such a decision. That won't happen until, and if, the Government decides to move to the next stage and seek resource consents.

That will be the time when the broader economic and social issues of any such move will be assessed. That's the point when the Government will give us opportunity as a community to enter into any debate about this proposal. Until then, we can only gather our own resources and ensure we are well prepared to contribute good quality data.

Some concern has been expressed about the confidentiality agreement that covers council staff involved in providing information for the ministry's preliminary report.

As is standard practice, a confidentiality agreement governs those supplying information to a financial feasibility report.

Council staff deal regularly with commercially sensitive information and are familiar with confidentiality requirements.

This agreement covers any commercially sensitive information provided by the ferry and port operators that may emerge in the course of the ministry's research. It protects the rights of the private businesses which use the port, but it does not constrain the council from advocating on behalf of the community.

Nothing that has been agreed by council will restrict councillors from fulfilling their roles as advocates for the Marlborough community. My priority, should this project go ahead, will be to ensure that proper consideration is given to all impacts and that an appropriate support package is delivered to Marlborough.

ALISTAIR SOWMAN

Mayor

Marlborough District Council

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- The Marlborough Express

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