Let’s investigate heavy traffic bypass proposal

Let’s investigate 'heavy traffic bypass' proposal

Published: September 26, 2018

 

Moving within the business community there continues to be serious discussion and comment since a Gisborne Holdings Ltd director released a thought-provoking document based around the fact that our community needs to be planning now for alternative heavy traffic routes in and around our city.

 

To better understand this project, several chamber executive members recently met with GHL representatives where the proposal was further explained.

 

The tabled document certainly is ambitious yet at this time all GHL is requesting is that a feasibility study be undertaken to consider how we should manage the ever-increasing volumes of large vehicles in and around our city.

 

Notably that is the heavy vehicles heading to and from Eastland Port, yet at the same time making sure that our city is a more vibrant and importantly a safe place to live and do business.

 

The mechanism to fund this high-end feasibility study would be the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund — from which we have recently received much-needed roading funds. From my perspective this study should also consider the movement of logs via rail from the Dunstan Road area to Eastland Port.

 

For many this may be speculative. However, consider the well-documented projected increases in the volume of log activity alone, and the need for major infrastructure investment is clear.

 

This is not an issue that can be swept under the carpet.

 

Like it or not, Gisborne city and the wider Tairawhiti has a serious logging industry that is growing and is here for the long term. Currently our port is ranked No.2 in New Zealand for log exports behind Tauranga.

 

The forestry industry employs many locals and there are a lot of employment opportunities across many aspects of this industry for those looking to work. High on that list is drivers.

 

At this time we need visionary thinking and a plan for the longer term, hence the chamber endorses the GHL proposal of a heavy traffic feasibility study.

 

Terry Sheldrake
Gisborne Chamber of Commerce CEO

 


Sept. Business Quarterly Report ...

 

The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce belongs to the “northern cluster” of chambers, so I meet regularly with chamber representatives from Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga, Taupo, New Plymouth, Rotorua, Te Awamutu and Whakatane.

 

In support of these meetings, we run surveys to gauge business trends. Our most recent survey targeted business confidence and from over 1000 responses, almost half believed economic conditions would get worse by the end of the year. That’s a strong message.

 

Confidence among business people is at its lowest ebb in a decade, and although commentators suggest there is a risk of the business community’s narrative becoming self-fulfilling, it is far riskier to ignore what the numbers are saying — which is that business hates uncertainty and procrastination.

 

Yet these are two consequences of local and central government inaction that are being served up to businesses, which are also having to digest a barrage of wage demands, price hikes, special purpose taxes, compliance costs and policy decisions.

 

This survey result does not represent a pass/fail mark for the Government; however, 12 months is a long time to keep business in limbo.

 

Something this district is waiting on is further news from the billion-dollar-a-year Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which was launched in Gisborne by the Hon Shane Jones back in February. That fuelled expectations for many in our community, including those seeking employment. However, six months on and we are still waiting for this expectation to hit the ground with sound employment opportunities.

 

It is reported that the Government has been overwhelmed with funding proposals from across New Zealand, hence the delay in hearing back regarding applications to the fund.
The council has two major applications in with the PGF, for $100 million of investment in the district’s road network and a $6 million project to develop the summit of Titirangi/Kaiti Hill. There has also been an application for funding support for an upgrade to the Gisborne Airport terminal.

 

If central government backs these PGF projects for the region it would signal a significant pipeline of work to follow, creating employment as well as new infrastructure.

 

On the topic of roading investment, one hopes there will be an effort to address the ongoing issues with regard to slips in the Waioeka Gorge. As an isolated region, we need this major route open all the time.


Observing all the roading and underground service work taking place around our inner harbour does raise the question of how this busy location will function once the work is completed.

 

The council has approved the next stage of this $9 million redevelopment ($2.3m of which came from the PGF), including the addition of 24 extra carparks by opting for drive-in rather than parallel parks on the northern side of the Esplanade. Most parking is being consolidated at the Works and Soho carparks. An amenity block by the boat ramp is due for completion by November in time for the cruise ship season.

 

With the increase in cruise ship visits planned for summer, it is great to see the inner harbour redevelopment taking place. This coming summer let’s hope the weather is kind and we get as many cruise ship tourists into the city as possible.

 

Last week the chamber hosted an information evening which included updates from Activate Tairawhiti — on both economic development and tourism — and Air NZ. The evening included a presentation by guest speaker Stuart Trundle, CEO of Venture Taranaki.

 

Next week, via the Westpac Business Awards, we celebrate those businesses that have entered into these awards. All the finalists that invested in the time and energy it takes to present their businesses into these awards are already winners — from the chamber, good luck to all participants and congratulations in advance to the category winners.

 

There is a lot going on in our community at this time. A core function of the chamber is advocacy as an independent voice for the business community. We are located at 157 Grey street. If you would like to know more about the chamber and our activities please contact me directly terry@gisborne.org.nz

 

Terry Sheldrake MNZM is chief executive of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

 


20 JULY 2018

Our road network is vulnerable in many places and this has massive consequences for the region.

No one at the NZ Transport Agency or in the Government would debate that.

 

On the back of the latest Gorge slip closure, I was asked by an Auckland radio station to sum up in one word the state of the Waioeka Gorge. I used “unpredictable”, as the potential of extended closure is an ongoing threat that has become very real and very costly in recent years.

 

The Chamber is an independent voice for local businesses, and it is our businesses and residents who have to live through the impacts of these closures.

 

Transport operators have been frustrated at the length of time taken to clear this latest slip, procedures in place around temporary passing opportunities, as well as closure overnight when many trucks ply the route.

 

It is good that State Highway 2 is fully reopened again. Now it is time for the necessary response from NZTA and the Government: the Gorge requires a long-term and as permanent a fix as possible.

 

Gisborne is a destination city at the end of long drives, making it even more important that we have guaranteed road access 24/7 on the quickest route — as much as possible, allowing for extreme geological and weather challenges.

 

Closure of the Gorge comes at big costs, to transporters and businesses that rely on them in particular. Having to round the Coast, or head to Napier then northwards, are big diversions that make for huge disruption during gorge closures.

 

We look forward to seeing the draft business case to make the route from Opotiki to Napier more resilient, which NZTA will soon present to the councils of the region. We hope it will involve a serious level of investment in protecting the Gorge road from slips.

 

On behalf of our members, we will also add the Chamber’s support directly to Transport Minister Phil Twyford and associate Ministers Shane Jones and Julie Anne Genter. 

 

If you wish to have input or to add comment re our Gorge and its issues, please contact me direct at the Chamber or via email terry@gisborne.org.nz

 

Terry Sheldrake

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

 


Long-Term Plan 2018-2028

Chamber of Commerce Submission

Published: 20th April 2018


The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce represents approximately 150 businesses in the Gisborne region.

Key point – on the right track with “back to basics” focus

 The Chamber is supportive of the general approach of increased expenditure on key infrastructure and an increase in both debt levels and rates to pay for it.

  1. Supportive of a lift in roading expenditure
  2. Supportive of the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial programme
  3. Supportive of the DrainWise project to fix wastewater/stormwater issues
  4. Supportive of the proposed improvements to the wastewater treatment plant
  5. Supportive of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade

The Chamber does not have a problem with “above 2%” rates increases across the community.  We agree that key infrastructure requires significant, well-planned expenditure and we think higher debt levels and up to 5 percent rates rises to fund this expenditure is appropriate. 

However, the Chamber is adamant that the expenditure on this key infrastructure be managed prudently and efficiently; no one minds money being spent on infrastructure so long as the best long-term options are chosen and installation is well implemented.  We believe the council should consider outsourcing some development projects and ownership/management of related assets to its CCO or Eastland Group.  We believe there should be more big-picture thinking and investigation of the district’s long-term transport infrastructure needs.

Road infrastructure improvements critical

  • Roads are critical infrastructure to the region and need to be maintained to a high standard to ensure that the roading network is suitable and future-proofed for economic prosperity and growth.
  • The Chamber fully supports an approach to central government for additional funding to the district for maintenance and improvement on key road routes.
  • The Chamber believes that strong contractor management is required to ensure road maintenance contractors are held to account and roads are well maintained.
  • The Chamber is supportive of exploring options such as a regional fuel levy, or toll roads or other alternative funding options, as well as pursuit of the fair return of Road User Charges coming out of this district.
  • The Chamber believes Council needs to charge farm-foresters a forestry roading differential for the portion of their land that is in forest as soon as possible, to help prepare for the roading impacts of their harvest.  It is a pity this hasn't happened already, with farmers preparing to face a new impost from the inclusion of stock emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Water infrastructure is vital

  • Water supply to horticultural users is a key issue for regional economic growth.
  • The MAR trial programme is a very important initiative and Council should be congratulated for its support.
  • Comprehensive consultation is required on the reasonable community questions of water ownership and/or water infrastructure ownership.  Levies to commercial users to fund infrastructure, drive efficient water use and ensure sustainable water supply is appropriate.  These levies should be set in agreement with key industry and commercial stakeholders.
  • Initiation of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade is a necessity and is prudent “insurance” for inevitable future adverse weather events.

DrainWise

  • We support the DrainWise initiative required to reduce and stop current issues such as raw sewage being released into city rivers and backing up on properties.  
  • We agree that Council should replace old wastewater pipes in the public road and enforce private, while also funding some of the private work where big gains can be made. We note this is the preferred option.
  • However we suggest that other funding provisions be determined and implemented, possibly on a case by case basis; 
  • That a criteria be established, possibly involving an amnesty period, so property owners have a set but limited time frame for undertaking repairs;
  • If circumstances warrant, the repairs could be managed and undertaken by suitable Council staff or contractors;
  • And required measures be put in place to manage each case and charge the property owner according to any financial outlay required by Council to undertake the necessary remedial repairs, in order achieve the desired reduction more quickly.  

Wastewater Treatment

  • The Chamber supports the council’s preferred option, for affordability reasons and to allow time for further investigation and technology improvement re a wetland and alternative use.

Regional Transport Infrastructure – More analysis required.

  • The Chamber would observe that there is a current short/medium-term emphasis on roading maintenance out of obvious necessity, however all district transport infrastructure needs to come into the discussion now.  We believe there should be an independent study of these matters, and that the Provincial Growth Fund would support an application for such a study.
  • What are the real economic and other trade-offs and impacts of utilising both the road network and the rail line, or investing in coastal shipping instead of rail?
  • What are freight customer needs now (as opposed to 2012) and into the future that would inform a decision on rail or coastal shipping investment?
  • Are the key road network routes situated in the right location given future forestry harvests?
  • Is there another route/better method to get logs from Dunstan Road to the port?
  • Could part/s of the State Highway south to Hawke’s Bay be rerouted for much better outcomes?

Other observations

  • Gisborne Holdings Ltd and potentially also Eastland Group should be utilised to seek efficiencies, drive clarity of purpose and enable transparency of finances.  Council is considering transferring Community Housing to GHL; the Chamber thinks it should also consider its CCO owning/managing other key assets in the region such as theatres and the Olympic Pool complex.  GHL or Eastland Group could provide similar commercial expertise to the district’s water supply, for example.
  • The return sought from GHL in its statement of intent is a 4% Return on Shareholder Funds.  Council should seek higher levels of return and allow higher GHL debt levels to drive appropriate decision-making by the board.  Settling for a 4% return is not using the ratepayers’ investment in these assets to the best potential. 
  • One of the reasons for transfer of assets to GHL was to create transparency of overheads.  With the asset transfers now mostly complete and overhead costs transferred to GHL, we don’t see overhead reductions within Council.  We note that the council has also brought water testing and gardening in-house, and added project managers, but we understand it has also significantly increased its communications, IT and human resources teams.
  • It is not unreasonable for our members or the wider Tairawhiti community to question whether the Council organisation is itself “sharing the pain” as it asks ratepayers to stump up, to approve large debt increases, and to realise some important projects can't be done without significant or complete grant funding — and is asking funders to step into the breach.  We believe Council isn't showing it is focused on efficient delivery of services when its staffing costs are forecast to be $1.2m over-budget this financial year, and we don’t hear much publicly about efforts in this area.  If this is also the perception of funders, we feel it could put grant funding at risk.
  • While the Chamber supports the “5% to thrive” rates increase proposal in the draft Long Term Plan, it would have been better if instead Council had made gradual increases of say 3% over recent years instead of a sharp jump from 2% to 5% now.  Council should have processes in place to be able to foresee these requirements and plan rates increases prudently and gradually.
  • The Chamber is supportive of the council’s plan to increase debt levels to fund necessary infrastructure improvements and spread the payments over time.  We agree the council has room to lift debt levels but would want to see debt come down relatively quickly as planned, for future investment and emergency works flexibility.
  • The chamber is supportive of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan and the council’s commitment in it to streamline its consenting processes.  We note from the LTP consultation document that it is intended to increase charges for consents to lessen the burden on ratepayers.  The Chamber would hope that any fee increases would contribute to markedly improved levels of service and processing times.

ENDS.




Press release:

'Upgrading roads a top priority'

by Terry Sheldrake Published: 15th January 2018


Gisborne District Council is now mostly moved into its new building. Without doubt it will have been designed and built to meet every building code best-practice standard so that all who are working inside can be assured they are in a safe and productive working environment well into the future.


Pre-Christmas, Tairawhiti Roads featured in The Herald outlining revised budgets and promises of significant roading upgrade programmes. This is good news, yet well overdue — in particular for roads on the East Coast. Several of our District Council-managed internal roads are being addressed, which is welcome news for motorists and cyclists.


Over the holiday break I spent time with an area executive representative of the Road Transport Association of NZ, and found it interesting to understand the role this agency plays throughout New Zealand.


The mission statement of the Road Transport Forum is to create and sustain the environment within New Zealand in which the road transport industry can grow and prosper, and to assist members of the constituent associations to realise their business goals.


The constituent associations are broken down into six regional associations. Gisborne falls within the Bay of Plenty/South Waikato/Poverty Bay/Taupo association, with our representative based in Hamilton.

 

Their work is extensive, including the following key areas:

• Represents the interests of road transport operators nationally


• Lobbies central and local government and responds to government initiatives affecting the industry


• Actively promotes the industry’s interests with key policy setting and enforcing government departments, such as the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency


• Works closely with major industry suppliers including oil companies, truck and trailer manufacturers and tyre companies


• Supports the industries’ training organisation


• Keeps members fully informed on matters affecting their business and the industry as a whole.


Road transport issues across Tairawhiti are complex, particularly because of our geology. The predominant issue now though is the increasing number of logging trucks, which regularly take the brunt of criticism for damage to our local road network.


However, unless there is a financially viable and sustainable alternative, getting the logs to our local port — and hopefully to a growing local wood-processing sector — will require an increasing number of log truck movements every day.


As Port Eastland develops plans to accommodate dual berthing (allowing two log ships to be berthed and loaded at a time), our local roading and transport decision-makers must prioritise getting roads ready for the extra load. They also need to keep conscious of the safety factor for our community.

Logging Truck Ormond Rd 800x311


With the likelihood that more and more trees will be planted, it is timely to remember that we do need to ensure that good, productive pastoral land is not taken out.


It is worth noting the value of forestry vs farming loads:


Logs  $125 per tonne
Lamb  $5000 per tonne
Beef  $5500 per tonne
Wool  $2500 per tonne.


A truck-load of logs is worth $3750 while a truck-load of steers is worth about $60,000.


The transport weight produced off a forest of pinus radiata is also about 20 times that for a farm when annualised.

 


Gisborne Chamber of Commerce: 157 Grey Street, Gisborne NZ

(City end of Cosmopolitan Club building - Entrance from Grey Street  -

with off street Car Parking available)

Postal Address: PO Box 897 Gisborne 4040 NZ        

Telephone: 06 863 0384  /  Terry's Mobile: 021 645 503

Email: terry@gisborne.org.nz    /   Website:  www.gisborne.org.nz

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PLEASE NOTE: Terry will be in the Office on Tues. / Wed. / Thurs. - you are 
invited to phone in and make an appointment.

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Gisborne Chamber of Commerce: 157 Grey Street, Gisborne New Zealand