Council candidate calls Government 'a thorn in the backside'

Monday 12 October 2015, 2:40PM

By Community Taranaki



A Taranaki election candidate has swiped out at the government for being a “thorn in the backside” while controlling New Plymouth City Airport.

The Crown has a 50/50 ownership agreement with the New Plymouth District Council, which local politicians have been trying to change for years.

In a fierce discussion 18 year old Michael Riley, standing for New Plymouth District Council indicated the current government was dysfunctional in thinking they’re having a positive effect on the airports operations.

“The government that strives it's self on economic progress needs to give up their share of the airport,” Riley said.

“The government is a thorn in the backside that we as a community don't want controlling our airport. I can't see them backing out any time soon though; the council has tried to boot the government out for years, without success.”

In July 2014 Mayor Andrew Judd struck out saying the Crown could veto any future development and have been reluctant to invest into the airport.

More than a year on, nothing has changed and Riley blames it purely on the government’s inaction.

“We need to ensure our runway is extended to 1700m instead of the planned 1500m. Air New Zealand has indicated that a runway length of 1700m – 1800m is optimal for unrestricted ATR operations and it's important that as a district we get behind this development,” Riley said.

“It’s a common sense approach rather than waiting it out and paying more later.”

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd told Insiders New Zealand that even when Harry Duynhoven, a current councillor, was the MP of New Plymouth, and was assigned to transport; it could never get across the line to lose the government partnership.

“The 50/50 is historic in its design, as in most Airports used to be the same model. The advantage would mean we could make quicker decisions,” Judd said.

“In the model we have now, if Council ( who operated the Airport) wants to make any changes we need to get approval from our partner. This can, and does delay progress.”