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Process for third-party assistance ‘too lengthy’

A process that would allow third parties such as forestry companies to contribute to the cost of upgrading roads is too long, says district councillor Pat Seymour.

Gisborne District Council’s finance and audit committee agreed to a process that would allow third parties to contribute to roading improvements on roads that would be subsidised by the NZ Transport Agency.

She asked if there was a way this could be moved along because the processes that were needed — particularly going to the regional transport committee for approval — never moved fast.

Lifelines director David Wilson said the process of going through the regional transport committee was required by the NZ Transport Agency.

If they wanted to unlock funding, they had to have approval. It was due to go to the next committee meeting. It should not be a slow process.

Mrs Seymour asked if there was some way the regional transport committee could be made more effective.

After the council had to drop two councillors off, it had only four councillors with a vote. The public members who sat on it did not have a vote, so it was a bit of a “toothless warrior.”

There were only four meetings a year. It was a “nonsense”.

Bill Burdett said he could not see any issues in terms of the regional transport committee. It was merely a rubber stamp.

David Wilson said when they partnered with other parties on a road, it required an amendment to the regional land transport plan. These did not happen fast.

It was normally months before they could start work. Going to the regional transport committee should not hold anybody up.

Andy Cranston asked if responsibility for repairs and maintenance three years down the track would be included in the agreements or whether the forestry companies decided once they had the forest out, that they did not need that road.

Although minimally used roads, public access would have to be guaranteed.

Mr Wilson said those things had to be agreed before they even started the process.

The road had to be delivered to the council’s standard, not the forestry one, and had to be of a standard that the council could maintain them.

“As the committee is well aware, we have a number of roads that have issues at the moment, that we can’t afford to fix, and forestry is saying ‘we are the ones damaging it, so we will pay to help’,” he said.

When it came to new roads, that would have to come back to the full council because a significant amount of money would be involved in land purchases.

Having an approval did not unlock any NZTA money because they still had to weigh it up against other projects that were competing nationally.

They would question whether this was for the benefit of one landowner and why they should use taxpayer funding for it.