Baker’s Banter 7 November 2017

It has certainly been an intriguing couple of weeks with some things floating around in the various forms of media that collectively we as a community use to gather information.
The first thing I need to do is a bit of myth busting. A couple of Fridays ago, the head of a large infrastructure organisation that acts, amongst other things, as an advocacy group, gave a speech with his view that it would be a good idea if a large city was built at Paerata.
Nothing more than an opinion, which may or may not make sense. It is not being considered currently and does not fit in with the recently finalised Unitary Plan, which sets out the rules for the next 30 years. But as the saying goes, never let the facts get in the way of a good story or a good headline.
Mainstream media pounced on it with headlines designed to get people reading—the absolute reason for a good headline—and all hell broke loose. I had phone calls over the weekend, texts, emails and questions. Social media erupted with people demanding to know ‘what the hell Council were up to,’ and the usual (seriously disappointing) personally loaded and derogatory comments from those who know it all and live the perfect life.
So just in case you missed it, there are no plans by Council, developers, the Government or anyone else to put 500,000 people in Paerata.
Similarly our keyboard warriors, egged on by some in the media, have been hard at it, condemning Council’s so called regional fuel tax. Last time I looked, Council had not sought a fuel tax.
The new Government as they seem to like to do, has said they favour a tax as a means to provide funding for much needed transport projects—and will make it available as a tool if the Council wants to use it. We asked questions about these types of alternative funding streams a couple of years back during our Long Term Plan consultation. People in Franklin submitted that they preferred tolls.
My view is; whilst a fuel tax is simple and relatively quick to impose, it is far too blunt as a tool and I would want to see how they mitigated the impacts on non road using fuel users (farming, fisheries and the large machinery used to build our new areas of development as examples) as well as knowing how we determine the priorities.
I am extremely fearful that the new Government is going to push their pet projects such as light rail to Westgate and the airport ahead of the projects determined through fact, data and need, as contained within the Auckland Transport Alignment Project.
The project that I am very concerned about is the Mill Road corridor. I hear whispers about it being stopped or slowed. Hopefully common sense will prevail over political cronyism.
Finally, hopefully the Supercars, despite wet weather forecast as I write this, were another great event with our town’s name in the headlines for great reasons.
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