Wanganui District Council Wanganui spreads along the lower reaches of the Whanganui River

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Mayor says PoW claims - 3/08/2005

Mayor Michael Laws today said that the latest claim of Port of Wanganui promoter Tuffy Churton that the District Council had "stolen their idea" was not only wrong but laughable.

"It is yet another false claim by a group who have enormous difficulty in separating fact from fiction. The truth is that Westgate (Port of Taranaki) approached Council late last year not the other way around. Council met with Westgate on 9 December 2004 and, at Westgate's request, Council visited Port of Taranaki on 28 February 2005. Westgate also made a formal presentation to the Economic Committee on June 14. As I understand it, the inland port concept was always their idea," said Mr Laws.

Mr Laws said he had "no wish for involvement with Mr Churton's group from the moment I discovered that their alleged backers for the original deepwater port did not actually exist".

"Then when I discovered that Mr Churton was sentenced to eight months' jail last year his second stint inside - and was an undischarged bankrupt, I must admit to losing interest entirely."

Mr Laws said that the Port of Wanganui had last week also brought into question the credibility of Westgate's CEO Roy Weaver.

"It has been one desperate act after another from Port of Wanganui Ltd. I have deliberately kept my distance from them and that choice has proven to be very wise."

Mr Laws said that the inland port concept whilst enormously exciting for the district would require a great deal of work to make happen.

"It will need to stand upon its own commercial merits. We have no intention of contributing ratepayers' money to the venture. Our role is to assist the venture and to play facilitator as required."

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