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Funding blow blocks Broadway dreams

Jane Davis, Carterton District Council chief executive, with plans for the redevelopment of the town’s Broadway. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

 

MARCUS ANSELM

[email protected]

Wairarapa projects worth millions of dollars have been turned down for central government funding, with a major Carterton scheme the latest to lose out.

A $8 million bid for a “shovel ready” project by Carterton District Council [CDC] to redevelop the town’s Broadway street was turned down last week.

It is one a number of multi-million-dollar projects thought to have missed out on access to funding.

Through the various funding channels, Wairarapa’s three councils have missed out on more than $40m in potential backing.

That includes a South Wairarapa District council bid of $20m for Featherston’s wastewater treatment plant.

It is now likely these schemes will be considered as part of long-term planning for the authorities.

Each district is warming up its work on 10-year-plans, due next year, with these projects to go into the mix for debates on funding.

Carterton’s Broadway initiative sought to upgrade the thoroughfare, which runs from the CBD to the railway station.

It would provide more parking away from the state highway and give more pedestrian and cycleway access.

The project had been on the council’s radar for more than five years but has had to play second fiddle to infrastructure renewals.

CDC devoted about $500,000 to a rejuvenation scheme for the street in 2015, but the money was never used. Initial designs were later written up but have not yet been realised.

Council chief executive Jane Davis said it had always been on the list but never a priority.

“Small councils like ours will always struggle to fund projects like these when they are competing against core infrastructure projects,” she said.

The council has focused the bulk of its spending on a wastewater treatment plant, close to the district’s southern border.

Each council did benefit from the Three Waters stimulus package, with Masterton claiming $4.4m, SWDC more than $2.8m, and Carterton $1.84m.

About $1m was also given to Tauherenikau bridge section of the Five Towns Trail cycle route, a shared project between the councils.

The two southern districts have also received backing through the Mayoral Taskforce for Jobs programme.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said the $250,000 of funding through the programme was “an absolute game-changer”.

North of the Waingawa, Masterton District Council has been more successful.

The Hood Aerodrome project, shared between Wairarapa’s districts but with Masterton leading the way, scored more than $10m.

It also received more than $1m for upgrades to the town centre skate park.

It also shared in the Five Trails bridge projects.

During her visit to Wairarapa on Friday, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said the party would pledge a further $200m to support regional development projects, if re-elected.

The local government lobby group LGNZ has criticised the competitive nature of funding, and the centralisation of public spending in New Zealand.

Its president Stuart Crosby said that New Zealand is one of the most centralised countries in the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development].

Central government accounts for 88 per cent of public expenditure, against an average of just 46 per cent across the 37 OECD nations.

“It’s really important that New Zealand gets the democratic wellbeing balance right.

“We want a culture and society where all New Zealanders are part of our policy solutions, not just a select group in the Beehive that make promises that they can’t keep.”

-NZLDR

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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