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No consultation, no analysis, no logic

by Richard Brown
Consultation on the Petone to Grenada link road and the north of Tawa options seems to have been a catch cry, not a serious exercise, for the NZ Transport Agency.

In 2013, behind closed doors, the Transport Agency changed the purpose of the Petone to Grenada road to include providing extra capacity north of Tawa, and to getting trucks from Petone to Transmission Gully.

In February 2014 they launched this new plan – as options C & D – on to house and land owners, and expressed surprise that people were incensed. It was news even to people like Andy Foster, Chair of the Wellington City Council’s Transport & Urban Development Committee.

The Agency asked for submissions (good).

Then they ignored the submissions (bad) and totally misrepresented them.

In a public statement, the Agency’s Rod James said there were 1400 submissions and almost all were in favour of P2G, but there was as yet no clear choice between C & D.

In fact: only 1 per cent were in favour of C, and a further 1 per cent were in favour of D – that is balanced I suppose.

In May 2014, the Regional Council proposed a working party representing all of the Wellington Councils and the Transport Agency to work through the issues (the Regional Council were against any extra north/south capacity) as a way to improve the lack of public consultation.

That working group was to meet monthly and be open to the public who could speak and put in submissions.

Meeting dates were advised, but cancelled, not once but three times, and there was no public opportunity for input. Finally, after a further 10 months of total secrecy, the Transport Agency had the CEOs of the councils present a joint report to the regional transport committee saying ‘let’s go with Option D.’

No consultation, no analysis, no logic, no business case in support, and absolutely no relevance to the original purpose of P2g which was to get traffic more speedily between Porirua/Tawa and Petone.

So here we are again having to ask for consultation, with the likelihood that the Transport Agency will want to insist on Option D to solve problems that even their own consultants tell them don’t exist.

Furthermore, the Transport Agency’s idea of consultation with Councils has been to tell them:

. Bear in mind this is an Transport Agency Board decision to make, not yours. . We are just asking you to get your input (e.g. March 2015 Regional Transport Committee meeting, where the unelected Transport Agency representative threatened the elected reps that the Agency didn’t have to listen anyway as she would be sending it to the board regardless – undermining consultation).
. If you don’t pick one of our two new shiny options, then funding will be in jeopardy for this and a number of other Wellington road and cycle projects (Which Peter Dunne described as blackmail).

If consultation in its true form does not appear, then we’re all off to the courts, where sanity will prevail.

Richard Brown runs a construction company in Wellington, and is a passionate outdoorsman, farmer and family man.