Written By: - Date published: 1:38 pm, June 30th, 2014 - 38 comments
Categories: greens, labour, local government, national, Politics, public transport, same old national, transport - Tags: councils, nzta, rates, super heavy trucks
I’m always surprised at how short a memory many media have. For instance at Radio NZ on Morning Report I saw this dumb description..
06:39 Some provincial mayors are feeling hard done by, despite a National Party promise of an extra 212-million-dollars for improvements to regional roading projects.
Ah yes. For some strange reason these ungrateful buggers, who have probably been in office for quite some time, are upset at being given $212 million for projects in the rural heartlands of the country if they elect a National led government.
Of course that is hardly surprising. Back in 2009/10, the National government tore billions of dollars from the rural roading budgets to put into their “Roads of National Significance” vanity projects of dubious and usually detrimental economic value. In the current “review”, they are tearing billions more and expecting the small ratepayer base in provincial councils to pay for the road maintenance, effectively increasing the subsidy to trucks.
This means that since then, not only have new rural roading projects been curtailed, but so has the maintenance on the existing ones.
For instance here is Michael Laws in 2009, then mayor for Whanganui…
In August, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said total land transport programme spending would rise by 17 percent over the next three years.
But Mr Laws said today the Government had significantly cut subsidies for local roading works in the regions to fund projects in the cities. Wanganui would have to cut about $6.5 million from its roading budget over the next three years.
Wanganui might have to abandon rural road maintenance, cycleway development and cut back on road safety improvements, he said.
Other provinces had also been hit.
“In the Hawke’s Bay, I understand that something like $17 million worth of budgeted works will now not happen,” Mr Laws said.
Kaipara’s mayor in 2010…
Kaipara’s mayor, Neil Tiller, says in his area he could be millions short of what was promised – which in his area is a very big deal.
His district council planned to spend $22.91m on its roads in 2010/11. He says that NZTA approved $17.34m. Furthermore, there is another $1.4m in doubt due to further Government cutbacks.
Kaipara Mayor complains: “ We could be $6.9m short. This is a large lump to cut out of a $22.9m budget.”
He said his complaint wasn’t with NZTA as it carries out government policy – but with the Government which decided to change roading funding shifting the focus and money from rural roading networks onto urban roads.
“We will be taking this matter up with the Government, including the Minister of Transport, to ensure it knows the impact it is having on rural roads.
That funding has never been restored except in microscopic dribs and drabs. The funding that used to go towards maintaining these roads for the farming communities and for the national good has been largely held for a pile of roads in urban and near urban areas, that generally urban areas neither need nor want.
Provincial NZ should listen to the outright anger in the cities. We’re not getting much that is useful from the funding for RONS. A motorway that extends to Warkworth does nothing for most people in Auckland and never will. Our congestion is inside the city.
For instance in Auckland where I live, outside of the SH20 project that started under Labour, it is hard to think of any roading project in Auckland that should be prioritized over the much cheaper public transport upgrades. Most of the “RONS” programmes seem to have been targeted for the benefit of land developers rather than urban dwellers.
And then when you look at what National is targeting with it’s new “Roads of Political Significance” policy, they aren’t going to the provincial councils with a need to maintain a decaying roading network. They going to subsidize trucking companies with bigger trucks. I guess that must be the new investment opportunity for National MPs?
But there is nothing that I can see in that policy for simply maintaining and improving the roads that councils run.
So now to that broadcast of the mayors “complaining”.
[audio: http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20140630-0639-provincial_mayors_not_happy_despite_extra_money-048.mp3 ]
Ah yes. Hardly surprising they are unhappy.
…At present we receive a 58% subsidy for most of our roads, and that will be eroded closer to a 53%, that is just a direct transfer of costs from the government to the ratepayer…
This is almost entirely due to National sucking more money from provincial roading to put into roads that are of significance to them.
…says there is a real chance of some tarseal roads being returned to gravel if extra money isn’t found soon.
Labour’s general transport policy will probably be to cut excessive funding for the “Roads of Significance only to National” and return the provincial roading budgets. In the cities to steadily reduce the congestion, not by simply building new roads, but by a combination of facilitation public transport and mostly improving existing roads and rail.
This isn’t going to be that incompatible with that of the Greens, who also want more public transport and shifting to more sustainable modes of transport like rail. Quite what they would do with rural trucks is a bit of a mystery?
Perhaps provincial NZ will like examine its other voting options? Because they aren’t getting much from National apart from rate increases and deteriorating roads.