Hauraki Rail Trail - Kaiaua Extension
Friday, November 3, 2017 at 11:44AM
Bill Barclay

Council heard an impassioned submission from the new (well hardly new, but too busy to have attended previously!) General Manager, Diane Drummond at its meeting on Tuesday.

She outlined her impressive background - especially that in Government where she actually worked in the area responsible for walkway, and cycleway development, and explained the changes that she had brought about since her arrival when she confronted the incredibly complicated structure put in place by the previous administration, and a financial mess.

Ms Drummond indicated that the Trail itself was on its last legs when she arrived - hardly new to those of us who had observed its progress over the last three years - a total disaster in other words, and an indictment on all those responsible for overseeing our investment in the enterprise.

We were given an extremely optimistic account of what she had managed to achieve in the eight or so months on board, and an excellent outline of the progress towards the opening on the Kaiaua extension on 18 November, about which you can read here.

I would have more impressed had the new GM been able to produce financial statements covering the last three years from which we have been separated in the past. You may recall that I drew attention to this absence right back in the time of Leach's Economic Development Committee that was supposed to have exercised oversight of the project on our behalf - unfortunately, they were otherwise engaged.

We remain totally ignorant of just how close this organisation sailed to oblivion - we do have Strat Peters on board as Council Appointed Trustee, and one can only hope that he has been exercising 'due diligence' in all respects, but it would certainly be a weight off our minds if we were allowed to observe the damage for ourselves - something that Rob Williams assured me would be the case "in the very near future." That is good, and re-assuring.

I just hope the 'gala' opening of the new extension is not used to over-shadow the vital information to which we are all entitled. The usage figures presented by Ms Drummond speak for themselves - !8,600 for Thames, and 29,000 for Paeroa, but the 'counters' that have been put in at various points on the Trail have failed in the main to give us accurate records, and they have to be replaced. I remain sceptical - I am not sure the period of this count, but 12,000 at Kopu would sounds somewhat fanciful, and along with the Thames figure more like extrapolated guess-work. 

So now we have to all get behind the new extension, and hope that it will balance things up a bit as far as Thames is concerned.


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