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Committee labelled ‘a joke’

THE Regional Transport Committee, which manages millions of dollars of spending on the district’s roads, was slammed as a “joke” by a district councillor at the Future Tairawhiti committee meeting.

Larry Foster said the apologies for the last meeting, along with the meeting before and earlier ones, showed there was a significant problem with the committee, which includes district councillors, appointed members and NZ Transport Agency representatives.

“It is so ineffective, it is a joke to both the NZ Transport Agency and ourselves,” said Mr Foster.

“This is an important committee. It handles our future roading, future policies and everything about our roads.”

Councillors were going to meetings as they knew the history behind it but half the committee members were not turning up.

“All of us councillors know the history of roading and where we need to be going, and the policies. The relationship with the NZTA is so important.”

He believed the committee was doing the future of roading in the region “a bad injustice”.

“I promote that we look at the regional transport committee and give it a good shake-up.”

All councillors needed to be involved, he said. It was an important committee as roading was at the forefront of transport in and out of the district.

Pat Seymour said she had written a paper on this issue, which the council chief executive (Nedine Thatcher Swann) had asked to be produced as a committee paper. It covered all the issues Mr Foster had raised.

Committee chairman (and district councillor) Bill Burdett said he reminded his colleagues at the last meeting that the committee was responsible for strategic planning and setting of policy.

“Over the years it has done quite a good job,” he said. “I concede the drop-off (in attendance) has been quite marked.”

If they were not personally involved, committee members seemed to just “flag it away”, he said.

“But it is the only chance where we are able to sit at a committee table with a member of the NZ Transport Agency.”

Mr Burdett said to the credit of NZTA lower North Island regional relationships director Emma Speight, she did give good reports.

“They are very detailed and in most cases we get a picture of what the transport agency intends funding on State Highway 35.”

Mayor Meng Foon said Mr Burdett had made a fair point. The council would wait for councillor Seymour’s paper.

Gisborne District Council's Larry Foster slammed the Regional Transport Committee, which manages millions of dollars of spending on the district’s roads, as a “joke” at the Future Tairawhiti committee meeting. File picture