Mayor Len Salt has been working hard to get support needed for the region in terms of finance and priority regarding timelines for the urgent roading repair operations around Coromandel Peninsula – the focus being SH 25A.
On Thursday last week, TCDC had organised various meetings for the community with the Recovery Minister, Peter Wood. The media were invited to attend a brief session to ask questions and The Informer, other local newspapers and Coromandel CFM were present.
Two other groups met with the Minister for discussion on the future of the Coromandel’s economy -
1) An advisory group made up of economic and business leaders who, after initial discussion on that day, will work with the Minister directly.
2) A business group consisting of business owners and operators met to state the barometer of just how local businesses are faring across the Coromandel. This was a one-off meeting for the Minister.
Minister Wood in Mayor Len’s words was ‘brutally honest’ when asked about the completion date for the SH 25A repair. “I have to be honest with you - not before Christmas.”
Len added, “There are no brakes on this. There is no impediment in terms of resources of time and money. That road will be fixed.” It was clear that there is no option being considered to not fix the road. That there would be another summer without SH 25 A being repaired was highly likely. One journalist asked about where hope comes into this, and the reply was ‘we hope it is sooner than later.”
Leigh Hopper was reported to have said at the business advisory group meeting, ‘You need to have the preparation carefully done before you start to throw money at it.’ The message was clearly, that there wasn’t a speedy quick fix to our major highway across the peninsula.
When asked was there a favourite option considered by Waka Kotahi of the three options being looked at to repair SH 25A; Mayor Len responded that TCDC has been kept in the loop on all progress but that there is no hard evidence yet as to what the best option is. There is a lot of scoping still to be done. The Minister had earlier stated that this decision was to be made by the end of April - announcement at the beginning of May.
Concern was expressed at the vulnerability of the roads taking on the extra traffic due to the closed SH25 A. Some part of the roads being used showed signs of great strain and stress.
Mayor explained that one of the things that TCDC was actively discussing with Waka Kotahi was - can they help the Coromandel region get sign off from the Minister and contribute with the funding for Tapu- Coroglen Road. When asked did TCDC not have the money at the moment; Mayor Len responded that between the middle of January and the present time, the region has spent somewhere between $35 and $50m dollars in local repair costs that had not been budgeted for. There was money set aside for the Tapu-Coroglen Road but storm events prior to January had used the funds. Some may have been spent on Tapu-Coroglen but other road emergencies as well had required the funds.
Business Support Fund This has been oversubscribed. The applications to date have gone through an initial assessment. We have examined those and done an approval process for these. There is a whole range of applications in the middle bracket and we will now examine this because we have confirmation of a second tranche of funding. There have been over 500 applications to the Business Support Fund which closed 31 March.
Caption: Minister Wood