Anger at 'roading crumbs'

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014
Andrew Judd stand
ANDY JACKSON
STANDING UP: New Plymouth's mayor Andrew Judd.

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Mayor Andrew Judd has struck out at the Government and lambasted political leaders for giving Taranaki roads only the crumbs left over from funding budgets.

Speaking out against the Government's draft policy statement on land transport, Judd said he was sick and tired of Taranaki getting a bad deal.

The latest transport policy offered nothing more to the region than before, and it was not good enough, he said.

Taranaki's roads needed to be upgraded because it had industries like oil and gas and dairy that relied on good roading and made a significant contribution to the country. "The Government can't keep using Taranaki's roads as a political football," Judd said.

But MP Jonathan Young refuted the idea of the region's funding being on a crumb only diet, and said the Government was making significant upgrades to Taranaki's roads.

Late last month Prime Minister John Key announced a roading policy package worth $212 million which would be implemented should National be re-elected following September's election.

Funded through asset sales, the package included between $10-15m for the Normanby overpass upgrade and up to $25m for work to be completed at Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge.

But Judd said regional roads should be funded from existing policies and Taranaki leaders shouldn't have to beg on bended knee and then wait for assets to be sold so they could get funding.

Money was constantly poured into Auckland and roads of national significance and that money needed to be more evenly distributed, he said.

"It's like it comes to election time and they think ‘oh let's feed the Naki some crumbs'. Well that's not good enough and it's not a sustainable plan.

"It's really good that work around here is starting, and don't get me wrong, we'll take it, and I don't want to knock a gift horse in the mouth, but we need a funding model that is sustainable."

However, Young said the Government had been listening to the concerns of Taranaki's leaders and that was why projects like the the Vickers to City, the Normanby overbridge and the Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge were being funded.

"The roads of national significance carry the bulk of the volume across our country and we needed to unclog those arteries," he said.

"But as we complete these roads we are starting to focus on regional ones. Taranaki is benefiting from this."

He said the Government was looking to invest over $1 billion on regional roading and an annual $90m contestable fund would also be set up.

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"We have 2.4 per cent of the population and we would be receiving at least that back in funding."

Judd said the Government needed to stop focusing on population and recognise Taranaki's major contribution to the economy as the key driver for funding allocation.

The New Plymouth District Council is making a submission on the government's draft policy on land transport and will be discussing it at tomorrow night's policy committee meeting.

- Taranaki Daily News

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