Mayor blocks councillor's bid to put transport funding to public vote

By Mathew Dearnaley

"I am very disappointed that Len has rejected the idea outright without any discussion, which I think is totally unfair to me and to the people of Auckland", says Geroge Wood. Photo / Natalie Slade
"I am very disappointed that Len has rejected the idea outright without any discussion, which I think is totally unfair to me and to the people of Auckland", says Geroge Wood. Photo / Natalie Slade

Mayor Len Brown has blocked a councillor's bid to put funding for the proposed $2.4 billion central city rail link and other transport projects to a public referendum.

North Shore council member George Wood is "astounded" Mr Brown has rejected a notice of motion he offered for a meeting of the council's governing body this Thursday.

Mr Wood wanted the council to at least consider the idea of holding a referendum during October's local body elections, to ask Aucklanders if they supported a proposal to raise an extra $400 million a year by increasing property taxes or imposing tolls on existing as well as new roads.

But he said the Mayor had refused to allow councillors to debate the proposal.

"My referendum would have given the people of Auckland the chance to express their views on the quantum of money the Mayor wishes to spend," Mr Wood said.

"I am very disappointed that Len has rejected the idea outright without any discussion, which I think is totally unfair to me and to the people of Auckland."

Although Mr Brown indicated last year that options for paying for what is expected to be a $12 billion transport funding gap between now and 2041 could go to a referendum, he is waiting for a final report from a "consensus building" advisory group on how to raise extra cash.

The 17-member group - on which business and union leaders have joined transport campaigners and the Automobile Association - expects to present a funding recommendation to Mr Brown next month.

A spokesman for the Mayor stopped short on Friday of ruling out a referendum, but said the group was set up to provide the best possible advice on how Auckland could raise the extra cash.

- NZ Herald

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