Historic Kopu Bridge 
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 4:14PM
Bill Barclay

It appears to be all 'on again' with equivocation being the order of the day at today's Council meeting.

Leach will be kicking himself that he did not push for the the 'kill' motion at the last meeting - that way they may have avoided the inevitable re-grouping of supporters around the project as Gary Blake and his team brought aboard National bodies following the failure of the relevant authorities to take decisive action.

With the interference of the Historic Places Trust, and now the Heritage Trust, and the inevitable report from John La Roche (John, an engineer, has been involved with the Swanson water supply service railway). As I have said on several occasions, none of these people have 'skin in the game' in the same way as ratepayers.

The staff and other submissions go the great lengths to disprove the maintenance cost estimates provided by Transport New Zealand. The staff report is so extensive that one is left with the distinct impression that there is an inherent bias towards retention in that quarter. Further, the veracity of the evidence brought to the table today appeared very shaky, with copious equivocation, including "commercial sensitivity." My experience of Government departments has been that they tend to underestimate, not over-estimate costs, and therefore Gary's optimistic estimates need to taken with a very large dose of salts.

Here is the wording of the Resolution they finally agreed to:

Supports the retention of the Kopu Bridge in principle conditional upon the following measures being achieved to remove the risk of future cost to the ratepayer;

a) a long term transferable resource consent for future demolition being successfully achieved by NZTA;

b) certainty of operation and maintenance financial self sustainability by an external management entity and;

c) certainty of the adequacy of future demolition funding received from NZTA.

If the bridge is demolished Council will oppose any partial demolition proposals that retain only part sections of the bridge structure.

That if the bridge is demolished the swing arm be located on land at a site agreed on by TCDC and HDC, and at NZTA cost.

You will understand from this that a very high hurdle on cost sustainability has been set that is unlikely to be reached with current arrangements in place. Gary had left the room by this stage, and will probably be quite miffed when he finds out the reluctance of Council to accept any future risk as reflected in this resolution. It is just a shame that those around the table, reluctant to offend, have postponed the decision one more time - probably for a year or more if I am not mistaken.

Councillor Goudie led a minor revolt against the Resolution - but to no avail, only attracting support from Jack Wells and Jan Bartley. Actually Sandra demonstrated extreme annoyance at the turn of events, but it was nice to have her presence - having been absent from the last three Thames Board meetings. She is beginning to follow the pattern set by the previous, unlamented Councillor Hoadley. Watch this space!

 

 

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