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Public now needs to have its say over new tolls

Public now needs to have its say over new tolls

“I welcome the likes of new tolls and fuel taxes going out for public consultation after these matters have been talked about for 20 years. However the timing is not ideal as it comes on top of the likes of imminent rates rises, fireplace bans, and other proposed extra council costs and service cutbacks. This means yet another unavoidable local government cost in Auckland whichever way you slice it,” says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.

“People really need to get involved in this discussion and give councillors a really clear steer on if, what and how they’re prepared to pay. We only got these finer details today after the media so we now need the public’s feedback.

“We’ve been told tolling the motorway network won’t have much of an impact on our arterial roads and suburban streets but to date we’ve seen no modelling whatsoever.

“The public now deserves to know the impact on their neighbourhoods with a lot of extra cars inevitably rat-running to avoid the tolls. The impact on the side streets and roads is completely unknown. That work is conspicuous by its absence but now needs to be part of a fully informed discussion.

“You can’t tell me that when you charge a toll to go from the CBD to Newmarket that many more people aren’t instead going to rat run through the likes of the Auckland Domain and down Khyber Pass Road for example. I want to also know what’s going to happen to the likes of Remuera Road and Great South Road when you toll the Southern Motorway. We need that level of information, particularly when you consider the huge forecast population growth. Local traffic will only get much worse before you even add a motorway toll.

“Some of us don’t subscribe to the Mayor’s belief that we have no option. I’d like to see a big re-fresh of the Auckland Plan that’s now a few years old. A lot of things have changed including the advent of Special Housing Areas, record migration, and not to mention the tough financial realities this council is now facing. Yet the Mayor is determined to deliver his big 30 year vision in complete isolation and regardless of all that’s changed in recent years and the fact that the money has dried up.

“The Mayor has previously told us that unless the Government supports the construction of the City Rail Link now 93% of Aucklanders will be in complete gridlock next decade and the average travel speed will be around single figures. We’ll we’re now told by officials that if we do nothing by 2026 the average morning motorway peak speed will be 50kms/ph. So who do we believe?

“What’s more I can’t believe the latest claim that only eight percent of Auckland households are regular motorway users? Let’s not forget that we have around 500,000 Auckland households, over 80% commute via a private vehicle, and collectively Aucklanders take nearly one million motorway trips a day. So now claiming that only eight out of 100 Aucklanders are regular motorway users seems very light. Many more Aucklanders will be stung than that.

“I would like the council to at least also consult the public on a possible partial sell-down on some of its strategic assets, namely a partial sale of the operating business of the Ports Of Auckland while keeping the underlying land in public ownership. If we are to build new family silver such as the City Rail Link we need to also look at considering moving some old family silver but the Mayor flatly refuses. He’s only interested in the rating, taxing, and tolling options. He’s not prepared to look under every stone. He’s letting his political ideology get in the way. These are not all the options. There are other funding possibilities that don’t directly hit motorists.

“The Mayor has previously promised a public referendum on these matters. Yet he has now broken this promise and is hoping Aucklanders will just have their say over the summer period. As we know at that time of year we never get big numbers of submissions but hopefully this news will motivate more people,” says Mr Brewer.

Ends

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