Rainey caught in ‘ciggie’ slur

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A “throw-away comment” from mayoral candidate Pete Rainey while talking about adding another traffic lane to Tahunanui Drive has left the Tahunanui business community fuming.

Speaking at his public meeting in Stoke on Sunday, Rainey was alleged to have said the seven car parks outside the Discount Here, Tahuna Tattoo, Sabai Sabai and Harley Pharmacy were only used by people “buying cheap ciggies”.

He denied making the comment on Monday morning, telling Nelson Weekly the comment was made by someone in the crowd.

But chair of the Tahunanui Business Association and Nelson City Council candidate Mike Rutledge, who was at the meeting, says the comment reinforces negative stereotypes of Tahuna.

He was left fuming at the denial and had several attendees of the public meeting, including councillor Ian Barker, call the Weekly office to confirm the comment was made by Rainey.

Rainey later conceded he may have made the “throw-away” comment.

“Sorry, I might have said that, I honestly can’t recall. It’s not the issue as far as I’m concerned. I don’t even really know what the shops are down there.

“The issue is the traffic flow. I honestly can’t recall saying it.

“It’s certainly not what I meant. I know there’s a dairy there and somebody had said to me there was cheap cigarettes and I might have mentioned… I honestly can’t recall. It’s not the point. The point was that there were people stopping there for short-stay stops in that area.

“I don’t even know; I think that dairy’s closed down now. I don’t even know exactly what’s happening because I never stop there, don’t even notice what’s going on.”

The “ciggie” comment was made while discussing his idea to remove the car parks outside the Tahuna businesses and use the space for a second lane through the traffic lights.

“Single-laning of that intersection holds a hell of a lot of people up. There’s 26,000 cars a day that go through there, which could be argued to be around 40,000 people. In this scenario it has to be ‘what’s for the greater good?’” he says.

Rainey suggested the current single lane was reintroduced by former chair of the works and infrastructure committee Eric Davy because it creates congestion and adds to the argument for the Southern Link.

Davy says Rainey’s suggestion was “outrageously untrue” and that the double-laning idea is already planned to happen.

“The reason the clearway was removed was because of the danger to people using the inside lane that was blocked by stationary traffic. It was agreed with NZTA [owners of the road] that we would go back to single-laning until such time as the parking could be relocated behind the shops. It’s only a short period of time until the single-laning would expire and the clearway would go back in.”

Rainey says that’s good news, but he wasn’t aware of that plan.

“He [Davy] certainly hasn’t articulated it, maybe there was a communication problem. But I’m glad to hear that.”