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Fletcher Submission To The Transport Committee

Submission To The Transport Committee

HON CHRISTINE FLETCHER QSO
FORMER MP EPSOM and MAYOR OF AUCKLAND CITY

28 June, 2004

I have taken a strong interest in the Eastern Corridor now for 15 years. As MP for Epsom when it became apparent that the population growth coupled with the foolish decision to allow unlimited cheap second hand cars to congest our roads, it became apparent that the country was going to have to make substantial investment in transport infrastructure.

As MP I commenced polling extensively from 1996. These polls repeatedly demonstrated that the Epsom electorate ( Parnell, Remuera, Mt. Eden and Epsom) favoured public transport, completion of the North Western roading Link and passionately favoured the retensiion of the assets of the Auckland Regional Services Trust to act as seeding funds for these initiatives. At no time did they support an Eastern Motorway.

This was my position then and now.

This Council as the largest TLA in the country, needs to take seriously its statutory obligations. For me the Eastern Corridor under the current Council is an embarrassment in terms of the unprincipled political interference in process.

That this Committee is even considering the ETC in the absence of critical information is a disgrace.

In Council's policy statements the ETC is barely mentioned but the public are told it is a priority by the Mayor. It is the cart before the horse.

Where in Council's plan is either a mandate or budget or forecasting for any costs associated with ETC?

Today you are required to consider and adopt the recommended route which will take the Eastern Corridor across Hobson Bay as opposed to the earlier proposed Parnell Tunnel.

However, you are also required to consider agenda item 6 and report to Council on the impact of the Eastern Transport Corridor within Council's formally adopted Growth Management Strategy.

This strategy, whether you agree or disagree, identifies growth in the Corridor in only two areas, Panmure/Glen Innes and the Quarry.

Little growth is expected in the Eastern suburbs. ETC should be designed to reflect this and be consistent with the strategy. It isn't.

Page 34 in the body of the report "The land-use assumptions that formed the basis for the transport modelling ….suggest that this was not necessarily the case as the land-use assumptions used were those available at a point in time when policies were being reviewed." End of quote.

This is bureaucratic speak for the assumptions being out dated and not to be relied on.

Furthermore the other critical matter for you to consider today under this agenda item is the scheme assessment and assessment of Environmental Effects.

• That Hobson Bay, Purewa Creek, Glen Innes/Panmure, State Highway 1 and Tamaki River corridors be confirmed as the preferred route between the Auckland Central Business District and the Tamaki River
• That regional transport policies, road and rail integration and private and passenger transport components be taken into account as part of any assessment
• That the work programme be reported back to the Transport Committee in August 2004
• That further discussions be held with Transfund New Zealand regarding the current Council subsidy rate of 53% as it applies to the Eastern Transport Corridor
• That the alignment recommendation be forwarded to the Regional Land Transport Committee for input into the current view of the Regional Land Transport Strategy 2003.

On the environmental effects my Council in May 2001 resolved to have these matters addressed. That Council did not support the Eastern Motorway it support the corridor continuing a public transport route.

Councillor Hay in a blatant electioneering move endeavoured to push the motorway onto the agenda. This same Councillor who I understand is shortly to abandon the Auckland City Council for the ARC) thought he was being very clever. What he underestimated was the Chair of the Transport Committee Catherine Harland, whom I have respect for, and I recognised that the issue needed relevant facts and information in order for an informed decision to be made.

We needed data and reasoned arguments to defeat the nonsense being promoted by the roading lobby and talk back hosts who were pushing the issue on the emotions of a frustrated public not on well founded facts or policy.

The May 2001 resolution (which is the only mandate for this Council to advance this work) required Council to report on:
- That the Transport and Roading committee notes the Regional Land Transport Strategy policies for the Eastern Corridor as set out in the agenda report and that the officers obtain further legal advice on whether the current transport designation will lapse in October 2004.
- That the transport and Roading Committee approves Auckland City adopting the lead role in conducting studies along the Eastern Corridor.

- That the transport and roading committee approves the undertaking of the Phase 1 study of the Eastern Corridor as broadly outlined in the agenda report with the following additions.

1. That the impact of any transport development along the Eastern corridor will be predominately experienced by Auckland City communities and for this reason their concerns must be identified and taken priority over those of other interest groups.

2. That the study must not concentrate solely on transport and accessibility issues but it must include an assessment of the growth and land-use objectives which Council and the region are seeking to achieve.

3. The study must include detailed consideration of the wider effects of any transport developments in the Eastern Corridor and take into account:

- The effects on the sensitive natural environments including an assessment of the impact on the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

- Community severance and or cohesion

- Priority provision for a separate rail based rapid transit facility through the corridor

- Auckland City Council Strategic Plan "Effective Transport" outcomes

- Auckland City Council Liveable Communities Strategy

- The Regional Plan: Coastal

- Other relevant plans and legislative requirements

- Options for using only portions of the corridor for roading purposes

- Iwi concerns

- A traffic impact assessment of a highway upon Tamaki Drive and the CBD

That there is no presumption in the Study that the Eastern Corridor will automatically become part of the State Highway/Motorway network and therefore must be designed to meet those standards.

That the Manager Transport Planning be authorised to approach Transfund NZ for a subsidy to undertake the phase 1 study with costs estimated at $200,000 (it is noted that the study will not proceed if the Council is not successful in gaining a substantial subsidy from Transfund.) ends

Councillors this was 2001. Here we are today, three years later with your officers still recommending that these same issues require answers.

What has happened. On the surface it seems nothing.

Or more likely the implications of the Eastern Motorway are so devastating on community, environment and so ridiculously expensive that there are no answers. Hence no officer is willing to sign off a report today to proceed.

Where is the mandate?

This report has been signed out at the highest level of Council under Director McPherson. This report states there is no authorisation for Council support or publicly commit to the component of the Eastern Corridor that is roading. The report says on page 5 " is clear that more work is needed in all of these areas to develop a comprehensive understanding of the extent and range of impacts and processes that will need to be addressed to enable the project to be progressed."

I don't have time to outline the many concerns this report identifies, however read pages 60 -63 and the heading under Consistency with National and Regional Policy Framework

Purpose of the ETC
Network Considerations
Passenger Transport
Rail Network
Walking and Cycling
Freight
Alignment and Form
Landuse/Transport
Economic Impacts
Heritage/Cultural Impacts
Environmental Impacts
Social/Community Impacts/
Aesthetic Impact
Property/Land acquisition
Funding
Route Protection
Staging
Consultation

Just to name a few

When I was last before this Council making a submission I sought clarification on where the funding and budget sat for the ETC within Auckland's 10 year plan.

I was given an assurance that I accepted by both the Acting CEO and the Chair of Finance that I would receive answers to the queries raised in my submission. I am still waiting.

Today we see yet another recommendation kicking this issue for touch until August presumably allowing for the Board of Transit who meet in July to see whether they wish to support the ETC.

"The ability and capacity of Auckland City and the project partners to fund the ETC is an area that has not been fully resolved." I find this amazing….Further into the report on page 46 it goes on to say "The ETC is identified only as a potential strategic route but is not part of the State Highway network".

This raises issues as to the ability of Auckland City to obtain Transfund subsidies for a project that is currently regarded as a local road project and is not a significant regional infrastructure project.

It also raises the issue of financial responsibility of this Auckland City Council under its statutory obligations to have direct financial responsibility for all designated works. I note in the officer's report that this obligation is currently sitting at $850 Million reference Page 45 and 72 for land acquisition.

Don't let the number numbness get to you. Let me put this in context. This represents potentially for Auckland 85 premier parks, Kaikoura Islands or new secondary schools for Auckland or a brand new light rail system.

Yet there is still for me no clarification as to where the long term funding on the ETC sits in the strategic documentation for Auckland City . Even in the Long Term Plan adopted last week there is no reference to the Eastern Corridor other than my May 2001 Environmental Assessment report. See page 73 of this report.

Can you as a committee, with the formal delegation you are charged with, honestly recommend that this proceed. Never in my 15 years of political life have a seen a senior Officers report on policy that so openly discredits the politically stated position.

If I were Mayor Banks I would be worrying over how he might extract himself from this embarrassing position.

He might be thinking. " I'll make it smaller. Perhaps two lanes. I'll get Project Director Kirby to recommend this. We'll make it small and then we can say that this is the first stage and I have met my election pledge.

I can't have them say I have done nothing for three years. Forget the funding the public got a dose of number numbness anyway. It doesn't matter ETC isn't a Strategic Priority I'll go to a public float. That will appeal to the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.

Or I'll get a private partner to pick it up and bankrupt them and not the Council. "

Well John that won't work because the project would have had to have been fully scoped by now - or it will be another Britomart 1.

You have two options Councillors.

One, say enough is enough. This Council will adhere to principles and proceed with the publicly and regional agreed transport plan adopted by the Council of 2001 which will see State Highway 16 & 20 and public transport proceed.

Or two. You allow this expensive farce to continue.

I am sick and tired on the Johnny come lately.

I have been opposed to the Eastern Motorway for 15 years.

What this city needs is for the Eastern Corridor to be a State of the Art public transport corridor. Go back to my plan for Britomart to be a through station and adopt option 2A which allows for a rail connection from Britomart around the central district connecting with the West.

Thank you Mr Chairman. You personally have taken an interest in Britomart. I would urge you to complete my vision.


ENDS

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