Golden opportunity for providing trip safety support


July 27, 2019 - 56 views

A pair of Waitaki District Council staffers have been slammed for their apparent lack of interest in engaging with a transport company to provide a parking plan for yesterday's Ranfurly Shield clash in Oamaru.

Funded by Oceana Gold, Ritchies Coachlines took more than 300 children to Oamaru from Karitane, Waitati, Warrington, Waikouaiti, Palmerston, Macraes Moonlight and Strath Taieri Schools on seven buses.

Others from East Otago High School and Flag Swamp School came to Oamaru by train with groups from Dunedin and Palmerston, and were picked up from the town's train station in Humber St and ferried to the game, then back, on another seven buses.

A person involved with organising the buses, who did not want to be named, told the Otago Daily Times they were left outraged by the council's response when asked if a plan was in place to ensure safe parking, including getting children on an off buses safely.

"I rang the Waitaki District Council yesterday [Thursday] to find out what the traffic management plan was they had in place for the 14 buses.

"The girl at reception didn't even know the game was on. She put me through to a guy ... I said to him we've got a plan for what we want to do and I want to make sure we are on the same page."

That plan involved buses travelling on Taward St, along Fleet St and finally, parking outside the main entrance of Whitestone Contracting Stadium.

To the person's surprise, they were told told nothing had been arranged and that the occasion was overrated.

The buses ended up parking near the Excelsior rugby club rooms. The person contacted the North Otago Rugby Union and was referred to the Otago Rugby Union. Both unions were aware of Ritchies' plans.

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson said the council's response was very disappointing.

He said Oceana Gold's gesture was absolutely wonderful and described the shield challenge as a huge day for the town.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said it was not an ideal response from council staff and probably not helpful.

As the game was not a council event, it was up to organisers to cater for provisions such as parking and safe access, he said.

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