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Auck. Traffic Problem Must Not Cost Country

Auckland Traffic Solution Must Not Cost Rest Of The Country - Ashburton Mayor

The Government must not leave the rest of the country behind as it tries to solve Auckland's traffic problems, says Ashburton Mayor Murray Anderson.

Spokesperson for the Community Roads group of over 25 local authorities nationwide, Mr Anderson says the Prime Minister should be careful that communities throughout the country are not disadvantaged by Mrs Shipley's pledge that Government road reform will ease Auckland's congestion.

"Much of the thrust behind the Government's proposals for roading over the past few years has clearly been motivated by a desire to resolve Auckland problems. While these problems are very real, the rest of the country also has roading issues which need to be addressed - different problems to those which Auckland suffers, and therefore different solutions.

"The most serious flaw of the Government's most recently published policy is that it seemed to be a sledgehammer to crack an Auckland walnut. In the process, it is apparent that many smaller communities would suffer greatly as a consequence of resolving Auckland's problems in the way the Government seems to favour.

"If the Government is now promising to solve Auckland's problems, communities throughout the rest of the country need to be reassured that the Auckland solution is not at their expense," he said.

The Community Roads group was formed in late 1998 when a number of local authorities decided to formulate a joint response to the Government's proposals to reform the managment and funding of New Zealand's road network. This followed the publication in November 1998 of 'Better Transport, Better Roads', the Government's draft policy for roads.

Mr Anderson said a number of mayors from the Community Roads group recently met Transport Minister Maurice Williamson and reached broad consensus with him on some priniciples for roading reform, but not on other fundamental concerns.

"While it seems that the Government generally agrees with local government on how costs for roads might be shared between road users and communities, we still have fundamental concerns about the policy which was published last year, and which the Government does not seem to have deviated from. We believe that local communities must continue to directly control the bodies which manage our roads; that roads must be managed on a not-for-profit basis; and rural roads should not be allowed to deteriorate, as many would under the current road reform proposals.

"Whatever solution is being proposed for Auckland, these principles must be retained for the rest of the country.

"We agree with the Government that reform for our roads is a priority - just not at the expense of communities," he said.

ENDS....

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