Slippery slope with winter gritting cuts

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A council manager is concerned Queens­­­town’s tourism reputation will be soiled if proposed cuts to winter gritting go ahead. 

Only gritting arterial roads and school bus routes and not opening the Crown Range Road until 10am are potential money-savers outlined in Queenstown Lakes District Council’s 2011/12 draft annual plan. 

QLDC is seeking ways to fill a road service funding gap because the New Zealand Transport Agency hasn’t upped its contributions to match increasing costs. 

Less gritting would save $130,000. And delayed clearing of the Crown Range Road – which links Wanaka and Queenstown and provides access to several skifields – by three hours daily would save about $40,000. 

Maintaining current services would mean a rates increase of more than the proposed 2.74 per cent. 

As well as road safety being a worry, QLDC transport boss Denis Mander says reducing services could affect Queens­town’s image for tourists and seasonal workers. 

“If you are on a three-day holiday to Queenstown and you have either a crash or feel that you can’t get around safely, it’s going to have an impact on Queenstown’s reputation as a tourist destination,” he says. 

Roading costs have slowly been creeping skyward, with the funding shortfall coming out of council coffers – last year it stung them $50,000, Mander says. 

Submissions on the draft annual plan close on May 16 and feedback will be taken to the NZTA.