Friday, May 24, 2024

Hawke’s Bay council in transport jam over political bus ads

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says it is powerless to remove political advertising from the region’s Go Bay bus fleet.

In a statement, the Council said it had become aware that its bus contractor Go Bus – operator of the service Go Bay – had accepted political advertising from the National Party in Hawke’s Bay.

The National Party candidate for the Napier seat in the next election is Katie Nimon, who is also the Transport Manager at Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Ms Nimon was first announced as a Nationals candidate back in 2020, when she held the role of General Manager of her family’s then 115-year-old bus company, Nimon and Sons, which was based in Hawke’s Bay and Taupo.

In 2021, the bus company was sold to Wairarapa-based Tranzit Group​, who acquired its 130 vehicles and leases to three depots in Whakatu, Napier and Taupō.

Ms Nimon joined the Council in September 2021.

Council General Manger Policy and Regulation, Katrina Brunton said Council couldn’t prevent the advertising from appearing under its current contract but was eyeing a future solution.

“The council’s intention is that the new contract in 2025 will prevent any political advertising on buses. The Regional Council is not involved in the advertising process and we don’t benefit from it,” said Ms Brunton.

To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, all Regional Council messaging about transport is now going through the office of Ms Brunton, the Council said in a statement.

“All transport planning and funding decisions go through my office and the Regional Transport Committee,” said Ms Brunton.

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