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Show us the money

Delays in receiving government funding for roadworks was criticised at a Gisborne District Council meeting yesterday with claims the council had been waiting nine months for the money.

The comments came as the council approved two variations increasing its western and northern roading contract costs by $30 million.

Almost all of extra money will come from the Provincial Growth Fund and flood damage funding.

“We want to get the roads done but we do not have the money yet, said Mayor Meng Foon.

“It has taken nine months and I have let the minister (Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones) know that.

“Even he will be frustrated that the money has not arrived. It is important that we continue to lobby them.

“We got a note from them acknowledging that we are spending our ratepayers’ money and borrowing money to do the roads in the hope that we will be recompensed fully — not just the capital amount that we spent but the cost of staff time and the interest rates.”

Mr Foon said the question was whether this would produce better roads.The public wanted reassurance the council was not mucking around.

Pat Seymour said the council should add that this was consistent with the promises made.

“How can bureaucracy hold us up like that?” said Bill Burdett.

Lifelines director David Wilson said the purpose of the variations was to make sure the council had financial delegation to do the work already under way through the Provincial Growth Fund and flood damage funding.

There would be a further paper on variations to the terms and conditions of the contract for the next council meeting

Answering a question from Malcolm Maclean, Mr Wilson said the council had $3 million in its budget for flood events and this had been raised to $4 million.

Mr Foon said one of the problems was that the council needed to apply for resource consents for most of this work, especially flood damage.

“All people want is to get back home,” he said.

There should be a rule in the new district plan that these things were a permitted activity.

The council wanted to be able to spend more money on tar than it did on paper.

Mr Wilson said when there was an event the council did not need a resource consent to open up a road.

Engineering input was needed on a lot of sites but if a road deteriorated further and became unsafe after an event the council could go in without a consent.

The resource consent team were working to process one consent that would cover over 200 sites.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown said one of the community’s biggest concerns was safety when maintenance was being done.

Mr Wilson said making roads safe was the first thing the council did on roads. But being uncomfortable about going over potholes was not a safety issue.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said safety was also about the condition of a car and driver behaviour.