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Clear leadership on transport issues needed

Nelson City Council will be voting - clear leadership on transport issues needed

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese has expressed concern that inaccurate statements from candidates and commentators are misleading voters on critical transport issues in Nelson. ‘Voters deserve better than this,’ Ms Reese says.

Ms Reese comments that the public of Nelson should be in no doubt that Nelson City Council is a key player in determining the city and wider region’s transport future. Significant ratepayer funding and the livability of our city is at stake and the council will be voting on arterial transport choices in the next term of Council.

Ms Reese highlights that the region is growing and will continue to grow. It is accepted that improving the form and function of Nelson's arterial transport system and the provision of walking and cycling links around the waterfront are both issues that need addressing. They are the key issues that form the Nelson Southern Link Investigation (NSLI) that is currently underway. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has repeatedly made it clear that it would be financially irresponsible to release funds for the Rocks Road Walking and Cycling component independent of determining the form and function of the arterial network. From an engineering and planning perspective it is just not feasible. The Rocks Road project is a key part of the NSLI.

‘Candidates who have been promoting the idea that Council will be able to develop the Rocks Road Project independently of NZTA, the owner of the State Highway and the key funder, are misleading the voters and risking a significant debt burden for the ratepayers of Nelson. That is not credible leadership,” says Ms Reese.

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Voters should remember that the NSLI is already at the stage of determining viable options, including the option of connecting the Nelson Southern Link and improving walking and cycling along our waterfront.

Ms Reese says, ‘I understand that these issues can be difficult for people to understand. But believe me, elected members will vote on decisions that determine how we operate our arterial transport network and the preferred configuration of the State Highway network. In the next stage of the NSLI the Mayor and Councillors will be required to vote their support or otherwise for the option of connecting the Nelson Southern Link. NZTA will want to know Council’s position and that will be determined by a vote at the Council table.’

‘Nelson needs unambiguous leadership from a mayor that already has a constructive relationship with NZTA; a mayor who is capable of negotiating the best outcome for all of Nelson.

It is my view that after October 8th, if NZTA can see a clear majority of Councillors giving me support, we will see much swifter progress on the NSLI than we have had in the last three years with Councillors actively challenging the investigation at every turn.

It is important that the voting public understand that for NZTA to implement the Southern Arterial Link option, and free our waterfront of heavy freight, Nelson City Council support will be needed. Voters should be asking candidates to identify their preferred options now because this will influence how elected members vote on a range of arterial transport issues. Council’s views and decision-making are essential to implementing critical transport solutions for our city.

In my opinion, as well as greatly improving our waterfront recreation and enjoyment, a well-designed Nelson Southern Link will also allow for better active transport choices across local networks, more people friendly residential neighbourhoods, network security, efficiencies in freight transportation, and the option of an express bus service. An efficient and effective arterial transport system is positive for people and the environment.’

Ms Reese says, ‘It is important for voters to understand the role Council will play in addressing the issues identified as part of the Nelson Southern Link Investigation. There are critical roles that elected members will undertake both as participants in the investigation and as voting members of Council on transport planning.’

‘The 2016 Council will play an essential role in determining Nelson’s transport future and voters have a right to know where candidates stand,’ says Ms Reese.


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