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And Then Some!

After all the 'hot air' over the Heritage Region, it was almost comic relief to be able to once again enter into the 'Gary Blake Briar Patch' that is the Kopu Bridge. There are now so many people with their extremities stuck in this little drama that I have lost count.

What did emerge yesterday when it came up as a result of receiving the 'unequivocal rejection of involvement by Hauraki District Council' was Strat Peters, Greg Hampton and David Hammond one and all, confessing to being involved in 'last ditch stands' to preserve the dammed thing.

They have apparently been engaged in discussions with various, and I mean various parties that are apparently reluctant to accept the Council decision now one year old that set out the conditions that it would require to be met before it would become involved in any way with 'preservation.'

All this appeared to come as a surprise to Leach and others around the table - Jack Wells and Goudie once again reacted with fury, and although Greg started digging furiously he was already in a very deep hole. Likewise Hammond who had been talking to a renegade rump in Transport NZ comprising environmentalists and lawyers who apparently 'want to help.'

Strat confessed to being involved with an unidentified group who are apparently close to identifying a major commercial 'sponsor' to take on the guarantee demanded by the Council - well that appeared to be the nub of it, but in Strat's usual fashion it was all clouded in unintelligible 'gobbledygook.'

Greg had likewise been talking, I think to the same group, and he launched into a impassioned defence of the bridge as an essential part of our heritage fabric, and the rail trail.

Well that is what set Sandra and Jack off, and Greg's ears are probably still burning along with Ben Day from his encounter earlier.

On the other hand, I don't think Leach was impressed one little bit with Hammond's interference, and he was told in no uncertain terms to 'get off the grass.' 

I honestly don't know where this is all going with all these well-intentioned attempts to subvert the Resolution, but the sooner that Transport NZ gets on with the Resource Consent and completes the job the better, otherwise we are going to have another one of the those social media driven debacles where the Council is forced to back down - Lord help us!.




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Reader Comments (2)

I would like to say Bill and thought I made clear at the Council meeting, is that we are now dealing with a situation where there are different views/motives within NZTA - those who want to now properly investigate the options of retaining the Bridge (which should have happened 3 years ago) and those who want to get on with it and pull the bridge down.

NZTA organized last Thursday (10th) a meeting with the Historic Bridge Society and invited stakeholders (including myself representing Thames Community Board), to look at potential bridge funding options (like those used to save Tolaga Bay wharf and the Hapuawhenua viaduct) and NZTA have also organized a meeting for Tuesday 29th to review all the heritage/engineering information - and they are now being pro-active!?. This proactive stance seemed to be in conflict with the messages being received by our CEO with recent meetings he had with NZTA representatives (mostly transport/roading orientated representatives) and I was seeking clarification over these conflicting messages.

With regards to NZTA and the demolition numbers, as I understand it from Mark Ensor (NZTA Legal Counsel), NZTA are currently preparing itemized cost estimates for demolishing the bridge - which they did not have in past. This was for the purpose of accurately determining the likely amount that could be ring fenced with compounding interest once established as a fund set aside to safeguard demolition costs should the bridge require it out into the future. To eliminate any risk to ratepayers this was the resolution made by Council some time ago. Greg was providing an update for Council of NZTA demolition consent issues and progress, clarification of past council resolutions with respect to this matter and subsequent general discussion which prevailed.

Also what I said was that I was aware and understood that the Historic Kopu Bridge Society was working with a major corporate to try and secure external funding (that would not suck money from other local causes) and are ever hopeful that the Bridge will be saved and utilised as a feature on the Hauraki Rail Trail - this could become a major feature once the HRT is extended to Kaiaua [and potentially, possibly one day, Clevedon]). There was nothing gobbledygook about that statement!?

During the discussion I also expressed my opinion of a successful funding campaign being dependent upon establishing an inspiring vision, which sells the iconic history and a revitalized experience of the bridge concept as a destination attraction on the Rail Trail. I was also expressing my disappointment that both local and regional effort for the vision ( TCDC and Hauraki District Council) was lacking and the council meeting reaffirmed that position. None of this was a surprise to our Mayor Glenn as you have stated and sadly the Council reaffirmed a status quo position on the matter as they felt that was the best thing to do.

I also made it clear that the Thames Community Board could not support the retention of the bridge if it risked future costs to our ratepayers but we should remain open to what comes out of the recent work to develop a sustainable option centered on the Rail Trail etc and they should be helping to facilitate. Help in this regard does not commit Council to the decision to either retain or demolish should the case not stack up. Council’s job is to facilitate with community projects like this

Strat Peters
Chair Thames Community Board

September 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStrat Peters

Thanks Strat - I simply could not understand what it was you were describing that was apparently going on behind the scenes. Hence the gobbledegook, but you should know by now to take my comments with a grain of salt - to be sure, I was exasperated with what appeared to me to be a concerted attempt to subvert the November 2014 resolution. Frankly, if Transport NZ want to resile from their previous resolve on the issue, that seems to me to be entirely their problem - now and into the future. I can't imagine that you will ever get the Council to change its position, but stranger things have happened.
But good on you for having me on about my comments - I wish it happened more often.
Hang in there, and keep them honest! .

September 18, 2015 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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