The NZ Transport Agency recently initiated an independent investigation by legal firm Simpson Grierson to examine several aspects of its dealings with the SkyPath Trust.
NZ Transport Agency Interim Chief Executive, Mark Ratcliffe says the investigation examined whether the Transport Agency, through its employees or representatives, entered into any commercial arrangements with the SkyPath Trust, whether the Transport Agency, through its employees or representatives, promised or created an expectation that it would procure services from the Trust where it would be involved in designing, building or operating the walking and cycling crossing of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and whether Transport Agency employees or representatives have acted in a way that undermines the reputation of the Agency.
The investigation has now been completed and found that the Transport Agency has not entered into any commercial arrangements with the SkyPath Trust through its employees or representatives nor has it promised or created an expectation that it would procure services from the Trust.
The report did not address the issue of intellectual property which has been raised by Bevan Woodward of the SkyPath Trust, because a separate legal opinion has determined this has not been breached.
However the report did say there could have been better communication between the two organisations. The Transport Agency has written to the SkyPath Trust to acknowledge that it could have communicated sooner that it was looking at alternative options.
“The Transport Agency is committed to improving our relationship with the SkyPath Trust and to help facilitate that we are asking Bevan Woodward from SkyPath Trust if he would like to take part in conflict resolution with an independent person agreed by both parties,” says Mark Ratcliffe.
A link to the Simpson Grierson report can be found on our website: https://nzta.govt.nz/about-us/news-and-media/independent-review-into-transport-agency-dealings-with-skypath-trust
The names of Transport Agency staff have been removed to protect privacy.
The Transport Agency is also aware there are plans for a protest march over the Auckland Harbour Bridge in support of SkyPath.
The Government Roading Powers Act 1989 prohibits pedestrian access to the motorway, which includes the Harbour Bridge. A special approval from the NZ Transport Agency, along with an appropriate traffic management plan, would be required for any walking or cycling including a protest.
The Transport Agency has provided the SkyPath Trust with information about how to apply for approval but to date no application has been made. That means any walking or cycling over the Harbour Bridge would be unlawful and would become a police matter.
The Transport Agency is concerned that any protest would be unsafe for those taking part and is working with Police to ensure that public safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists is maintained as well keeping the bridge open to traffic.