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Previous owner leaves dealership under cloud

Nigel Thompson has quit a car dealership business amid allegations of misconduct.

As revealed by Stuff.co.nz, the longstanding dealer used to run one of the largest car yards in Christchurch under the name “Nigel Thompson Motor Company”.

The business has reportedly had financial issues. In November last year former Kiwis coach, Frank Endacott and his son, took a 50 per cent share in the business helping to pay creditors and provide working capital.

Stuff reports Thompson left the business in September and the remaining shares were transferred to the Endacotts.

It also reports the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Inland Revenue have confirmed that they are launching an inquiry.

In a statement to Stuff, Frank Endacott said the family would keep the business running on their own. The car yard would operate under the Nigel Thompson name for the time being but is planning to rebrand in the near-future, he said.

Thompson has allegedly formed an association the Aranui-based Celebration Centre church. The associated trust is opening a yard where Thompson will be an employee, says Stuff. The profits from the car operation will go directly to the local community, the church says.

Church spokesman, Corey Watkinson, said to Stuff that he was aware of investigations into Thompson but was not concerned about the claims about his activities.

The church, a registered charity, has an income of about $1 million a year from tithes and donations.

Thompson said in a statement to Stuff that he was “unaware” of the ongoing investigations and the commercial relationship with the Endacotts “was ended by agreement”.

“The terms of the agreement are commercially sensitive and confidential as between the parties save as to record that all parties agree that any disputes . . . are settled.”

Stuff reports Thompson has denied any allegations of dishonest conduct. 

To read the full story, click here.

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National, Labour show their hands on transport policy

As the general election draws nearer and nearer, the two major parties vying for leadership have shown marked differences in their transport policies, outlining different sets of priorities and funding allocations.

Where National intends to continue funding investment in the state highway and regional road network, Labour has indicated that if elected, they would place most of its investment in inter-regional rail and light rail for Auckland.

Labour’s rhetoric on transportation policy has focused on easing congestion, improvements to usability and liveability, economic development and the environment. National emphasises productivity and growth, safety and congestion relief as the predominant benefits of its programme.

Bill English and Jacinda Adern at last night’s Press Leaders Debate in Christchurch. Source: stuff.co.nz

National has today confirmed its previous announcement that will deliver a $10.5 billion addition to the state highway network through a revamped Roads of National Significance programme, a move that the Auckland Chamber of Commerce says provides much needed certainty for business.

The incumbent government would invest an additional $600 million to improve road safety and repair earthquake-affected Kaikoura roads.

Penlink and the billion dollar Mill Rd project in Auckland will be delivered as state highways under a fouth National term. National has indicated it will also accelerate regional road projects, but has not provided any specifics.

One of Labour’s transport policies, and new leader Jacinda Adern’s first major policy announcement as leader, was that Labour would invest $3.3 billion in light rail and busways in Auckland over the next 20 years. In contrast to National, it would like to dial back the East West Link connecting Auckland’s motorways.

It would also commit $100 million to Christchurch public transport and consider light rail for Wellington, and require KiwiRail to cease de-electrification works.

Labour has committed to quickly rebuilding the Manawatu Gorge Rd.

It is not clear whether planned projects state highway improvements, including the Warkworth to Wellsford Road of National Significance, will be delivered as planned by the current government.

Labour has made more funding available for transport projects of regional importance by doubling the funding range of $70-$140m to $140-$280m.

Labour has not specified funding for cycling and walking, but has indicated that both, along with rail, will be eligible to apply to the National Land Transport Fund for national funding.

National will continue to implement its $333 million cycling programme.

National has also indicated that it will continue to support increased electric vehicle uptake.

A controversial policy announcement from Labour indicates that it will levy a 10 cents per litre fuel tax in Auckland to fund its programme, if elected, where National will fund its investment from existing sources and continue investigating road pricing.

The Tauranga Eastern Link, one of the Roads of National Significance.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood says that stark differences in both parties’ policies indicates that transportation is too politicised.

 “We spend tens of millions of dollars every year on complex modelling and evaluation of projects and their benefits which should, in theory, depoliticise transport priorities and deliver the right projects for the job.

“That two such different approaches can be promoted indicates a lack of evidence is present in our decision making,” says Selwood.

Transportation is just one of the issues the two parties are providing New Zealanders with a clear choice on.

With the two parties neck and neck in the polls, the outcome on September 23 could see New Zealanders travelling down one of two very different roads.

 

 

 

 

 

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Autohub has morning tea with the deputy PM

Local vehicle logistics company Autohub enjoyed a visit from the Deputy Prime Minister today.

Paula Bennett visited Autohub at their offices in Kumeu, to join her fellow “westies” for morning tea, some stories and a few laughs.

The Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and the Autohub staff.

Acting CEO of Autohub Frank Willet said that his staff found Bennett to be an inspiration, and that it was an absolute pleasure to have her visit.

“It was great to see the team, especially our fairer staff members, take some inspiration from such a well-grounded and high profile New Zealander,” Willett said.

Chris Penk, the National Party pick to contest the Helensville seat, that John Key will leave vacant with his resignation, joined Bennett for her visit.

Willett said he enjoyed meeting Penk “He seems very enthusiastic to ‘get on with things’ and well knows he has big shoes to fill replacing John Key”.

The Deputy Prime Minister yesterday announced a new Tourism Infrastructure fund, and has been busy campaigning for her party in the run up to the general election on September 23.

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PM announces $10.5 bn extra RoNS funding

Prime Minister Bill English has announced $10.5 billion of new funding for the Roads of National Significance program (RoNS), to be invested if National is re-elected for a fourth term.

That $10.5 billion would be committed over and above the $12 billion already allocated to seven other RoNS projects throughout the country. The roads will be funded from the National Land Transport Fund and the use of Public-Private partnerships.

Inforgraphic released by National following the announcement, detailing the new RoNS projects.

The new roading projects would focus on the regions, and the Prime Minister says they will make it easier to get products to our main export markets. “Today is the day when New Zealand gets ahead of the curve on roading and infrastructure,” he said in Hawkes Bay at the announcement.

The new projects announced are as follows; Wellsford to Whangarei; the East West Link in Auckland; Cambridge to Tirau; Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range; Tauranga to Katikati; Napier to Hastings; Manawatu Gorge; Levin to Sanson; Christchurch Northern Motorway; and Christchurch to Ashburton.

“Strong transport connections are critical for our growing regions and support New Zealand’s economic prosperity, and the Roads of National Significance are an important part of that,” said Minister for Transport Simon Bridges in a press release yesterday.

Minister Bridges also said that the investment will make sure that strain on infrastructure does not become a barrier to progress. Strain on roading infrastructure is currently costing Auckland nearly $2 billion per year, according to a report from the NZIER.

The announcement for regional focused infrastructure funding follows National’s announcement earlier this month of over $2 billion for road and rail projects in Auckland.

Labour leader Jacinda Adern has countered the announcement with a regional transport investment policy. The first stage would create a “golden triangle” of passenger rail links between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and conditional upon its success, the rail links would be extended as far as Rotorua.

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Canterbury infrastructure upgrade

Economic Development and Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced an integrated approach to transport planning and infrastructure investment in Canterbury.

During the launch of the refreshed Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy, in Christchurch, Bridges said that the Canterbury region has a world-class international airport, sea ports and inland ports and a series of natural disasters, including earthquarkes, storms and fires, have highlighted vulnerabilities in the region’s transport system.

“That’s why we’ve developed a strategy that focusses on developing a transport network that prioritises network resilience, moving people and freight efficiently around the region, supports visitors, and improves road safety and social connectedness,” he said.

Government funding will be provided to Canterbury for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and other sector partners to prepare for multi-modal transport strategies across the South Island, alongside Regional Transport Committees.

Meanwhile, Christchurch’s $112 million Russley Road upgrade is on track to open early next year, several months ahead of schedule.

“The early completion of the project would help relieve congestion and support economic growth in the Canterbury region,” Bridges says.

“Good weather, combined with the contractors McConnell Dowell Downer being able to bring on board extra resources and skilled staff has seen about 10 months shaved off the timetable.

“Innovation has also played a part, by designing and building the elliptical roundabout, the contractors have been able to minimise disruptions to the work schedule and keep traffic moving.

“In essence, the traffic has travelled around the site, limiting the need to continually change traffic management and letting the contractors get on with the job,” Mr Bridges says.

Mr Bridges says by the end of next month traffic would be travelling from Christchurch Airport to the city under the overbridge, and by the end of the year traffic on State Highway 1 would travel over the overbridge. This project is now expected to be completed early 2018.

The Russley Road upgrade is one of the six sections of the $300-$350 million Western Corridor upgrade from Belfast to Hornby to a four-lane, median-separated highway. Three of the six sections are completed with the remaining three are underway and will be completed by the end of next year.

The upgrade will reduce congestion, improve traffic times, provide better walking and cycling connections between the airport and city, improve safety and support economic growth by providing better connections to the airport.

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