21 Nov 2009

Council concerned at safety of Wanganui port

2:30 pm on 21 November 2009

Wanganui District Council has asked the Department of Labour for an urgent inspection of the city's port amid fears for public safety.

Mayor Michael Laws says the council commissioned an engineering report on the condition of the port which shows an almost catastrophic failure of some of its structures.

The council is embroiled in a dispute with port lessee River City Port, believing it has been derelict in its responsibilities.

Mr Laws says the report shows there is a significant and ongoing danger to anyone who goes near the port and hopes the department will close it to ensure the public's safety.

He says there is no doubt there will be an economic impact should the port close, but there would be a greater impact if the structures fell and lives were lost.

But River City Port chair Colin Cashmore says calls to close the port are short- sighted and unnecessary.

Mr Cashmore says though safety issues have been identified, he believes the responsibility for fixing subsidence problems lies with the council.

The parties have entered into mediation to try to resolve the problem, as well as on-going lease issues, he says.