Best advice on rail? Just get on with it!

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NEXT? Mayor John Carter taking a question from the floor after declaring that Mangonui's boardwalk will have some sort of safety railing.
NEXT? Mayor John Carter taking a question from the floor after declaring that Mangonui's boardwalk will have some sort of safety railing.

Some Mangonui folk are clearly unhappy that the Far North District Council believes it has no option but to erect a safety rail of some sort on the Neva Clarke McKenna Boardwalk, but there is another school of thought.

The most enthusiastic round of applause at a public meeting on Tuesday evening was earned by a woman who said the council should erect bollards, string a nautical rope between them and install lights.

"Just get on with it, then have a big party."

The meeting ended with the forming of a working group comprising Eddie Aickin, Doubtless Bay Promotions, Danny Simms, Felicity Foy, Diana Mills and a representative from Kenana Marae to discuss the options with the council.

Mayor John Carter repeatedly claimed that the council had no choice but to comply with the Building Act 1995 and the Resource Management Act.

The Northland Regional Council had extended its deadline from September 30 to January 31, but would need to see significant progress by then.

The only issue, he said, was what form the safety rail would take - a proposal to erect a net extending two metres out from the boardwalk was not popular among those present - while the working group would also look at other issues, such as street lighting, parking, planting of trees and extending the boardwalk to Maori Point.

"We want to look at what we can do to enhance Mangonui for the residents and visitors," Mr Carter said. "We want to make things happen."

He apologised for the lack of dialogue between the council and community over many years, but was now intent on putting that right, at Mangonui and other communities across the district.

The problem for those who did not want a safety railing at all was that that detail had been included in the resource consent granted in 2003, and the fact that the drop from the boardwalk was more than a metre.

The engineers who designed the boardwalk could have built up the base to reduce that drop to less than a metre, negating the need for a railing, but had not done so.

The district council, Mr Carter added, had no say.

The regional council was doing what the law required it to do, and if the district council did not comply, and if someone was hurt or worse in a fall from the boardwalk, the Mayor and councillors, past and present, could be held personally liable.

"I want to know what we can do to make a safety railing more acceptable to the community," he said, adding that the council would be surveying households in the community.

Mr Simms said the council should be addressing "real" safety issues (beyond the current boardwalk, where falls were not uncommon), rather than obeying "asinine" rules. He did not believe all the options had been properly explored.

One option could be to develop the boardwalk the point where it met the criteria as a "working wharf," which would not require a safety railing.

Mr Simms said three floating pontoons would go a long way towards achieving that.

One speaker said the community was not universally opposed to a railing, but the presentation of design options at the meeting had been "pathetic".

Much better options were illustrated on the council's website.

- Northland Age

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