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CPO Restoration ‘Worthy Of Ratepayers’ Money’

April 29, 2002

CPO Restoration ‘Worthy Of Ratepayers’ Money’ Says Banks

Auckland’s Chief Post Office – one of the great buildings of the city - is a building worthy of ratepayers’ money being spent on restoring it, according to Mayor, John Banks.

Mr Banks was speaking at the signing of a contract yesterday between Auckland City and Downer Construction Ltd for the $22 million refurbishment of the CPO. He says he has been disappointed to see what has happened to Auckland’s central business district and some of the city’s great buildings in the past 25 years.

“For those of those of us who believe in restoring those great Victorian buildings which helped make this city what it is today, we’re really pleased to be here for this project,” said Mr Banks.

“This is a stand-alone building that is worthy of ratepayers’ funding for the restoration to make sure that it serves this city as well for the next 100 years as it has for the past century.”

Mr Banks said he was also looking forward to the restoration of the adjoining council-owned buildings as the city owed that to the people who built them.

“I don’t see it as a matter of how much money we can get for all of these buildings, or how much money we can get individually for each of these buildings. It’s more a proposition that’s going to work together to make all of these buildings great for this part of the city.

“It’s one of the great days of the Auckland mayoralty – I’m absolutely delighted that we’re going to restore this great building. I’m going to take all the responsibility for the work being done and the end result we are going to achieve.”

Mr Banks said he inherited the Britomart project and his responsibility was to see it completed “on time and within budget.”

However, he was somewhat critical that now – in the 11th hour – the region was still struggling to come to grips with sound, sensible, workable and affordable rolling stock solutions for the train network.

“I want to say to you, Grant [Grant Kirby, the government’s transport advocate] that I support the proposition that you have been selling.

“I believe that trains will be a part – a small part – of Auckland’s integrated transport solution over the next short-term five years, the medium-term 15 and longer-term 25 years. As train patronage increases, then we can substantially increase the investment in rolling stock.”

However, Mr Banks said, it would be wrong for the government and the ratepayers of greater Auckland to put a huge amount of capital expenditure – regardless of how it was funded - into a proposition “that has yet to be proven.”

He said that trains into and out of the Britomart Station would add to the transport solution for greater Auckland. However he was yet to be convinced that the impact would be such that “we need to step out into the unknown with a huge capital commitment that would cause us a lot of worry and a huge subsidy.”

“Your proposition is something I can support,” Mr Banks said to Mr Kirby, who last week suggested to the Auckland Regional Council that the refurbishment of existing rolling stock in New Zealand – the M Class of train – would be the best option for the region.

“In the meantime, if the trains go twice as well as we think they will then we can look at a proposition of spending more money on upgraded rolling stock.”

Mr Banks said decisions on rolling stock would have to be made “very quickly because I am commited to making an assurance that this huge $200 million investment has rolling stock that’s going to provide part of the transport solution for Auckland City from day one,” he said.

“The day we open this railway station is the day we need good rolling stock, good services and a quality set-up that will benefit the Auckland transport solution.”

ENDS

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