PM to visit Ashburton

National leader Christopher Luxon speaking at the Ashburton Event Centre on his last visit to the town.
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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will be in Ashburton on Friday, but it won’t be for the long-awaited official opening of Te Whare Whakatere.

The district council’s new library and civic centre opened its doors to the public in January, but an official opening ceremony is yet to take place.

The district council has been co-ordinating with the Prime Minister’s office over dates, but Luxon’s first appearance in Ashburton since winning the election isn’t to cut any ribbons.

Chief executive Hamish Riach said the “diaries didn’t align” to enable the opening to occur on this visit.

That’s because the mayor and councillors would be on recess, using July as an annual break from district council business.

The public may see it as a missed opportunity to hold the official opening, which remains a work in progress.

“Still no confirmed opening, as soon as we have something we’ll let everyone know,” Riach said.

The Prime Minister will visit Ashburton College and the Ruralco Instore Days agricultural event before heading south to Timaru.

That means he might manage a drive-by of the new building, but the wait continues for confirmation of if, or when, he will return for an official opening.

Luxon’s last appearance in Ashburton was in May last year in the lead-up to the election, when he pledged that, if elected, National would start construction of Ashburton’s second bridge in its first term.

The future of that project will be detailed in the national land transport programme, which is due out later this year.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown unveiled the final Government Policy Statement on Land Transport last week, which will be used by the NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi in developing their National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

The second bridge was flagged in the GPS and now all eyes are on the release of the NLTP in September which will confirm what projects will be funded over the next three years.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.