An unprecedented turnout to a public meeting in Picton last
night showed almost unanimous support for keeping ferry
services in Picton, despite Government plans to move them
south of Blenheim.
The Government wants to shift all freight and passenger
services to Clifford Cay, 35km south of Blenheim.
At an estimated cost of $422 million, the change would cut
the road-ferry journey between Wellington and Christchurch by
almost an hour and a-half and shorten the rail trip by nearly
But local business owners believe the move would be
devastating for Picton's economy.
The Marlborough District Council last night held a public
meeting to gauge public support and hear both sides of the
The turnout was bigger than expected, forcing organisers to
change venue at the last minute.
But despite the large attendance - and repeated requests from
the floor - not a single person stood up in support of the
Picton bed and breakfast owner Gary Riggs estimated that the
plans would cut his business' revenue by 70 per cent.
"Obviously there's a big adjustment for the town of Picton.
Some suggest that it will die.
That won't actually happen but certainly there will be total
change to the situation," he told Radio New Zealand.
"Picton is largely a retirement town and so the loss of
employment here will be more keenly felt."
A Ministry of Transport report on the viability of the plans
is expected in April.