THE HAWKE’S BAY
THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1937.
HASTINGS RAILWAY STATION.
From the report appearing in our yesterday’s issue it will have been seen that the question of a new railway station for Hastings was very fully discussed at the meeting of representatives from interested local bodies held the previous evening. The Mayor had evidently gone to a great deal of trouble to collect and collate information regarding the past and to put his own suggestions into readily understandable form. The way was thus made comparatively easy for those who attended the meeting. In the result there should be no difficulty in laying the case for a new station before the Government in such a way that it can scarcely be denied serious consideration. At the same time it is quite necessary that not only the citizens of the borough itself but also the people of the surrounding districts should unite in giving the movement active support.
As Mr Maddison was able to point out, it is now nearly a quarter of a century since the Government of the day recognised that the claim of Hastings for a new railway station was fully justified, and a site then thought suitable was secured. The Great War then came and all such undertakings had to be shelved for the time being. Some ten years later the agitation was revived, but without effect, and the subject has since been allowed to remain in practical abeyance, though never altogether lost sight of. The fact that we have now a Government in office that has developed and is pursuing a policy of large expenditure on public works, and more particularly on railway facilities, makes the time peculiarly appropriate for pressing Hastings’ needs upon its attention.
Broadly speaking, it may be said that if it was admitted 24 years ago that Hastings was entitled to a new station, then the marked growth and progress, as both a business and a residential centre, it has made in the interval make the justice of its claim doubly clear. It has also to be said that during that time the town has been favoured by nothing more than an almost negligible expenditure of public money within its boundaries. Even its share of earthquake rehabilitation funds was of very small proportion, and the restoration and improvements in the way of new building in the business area have been carried out almost entirely from private resources. In these as in other ways, the community has shown itself as self-reliant and has made but very few and very small calls upon the public purse.
Hastings can therefore with a very clear conscience urge its claims for a new railway station that will serve adequately not only its own citizens but also the residents and landowners of the very extensive and highly productive rural districts by which it is regarded as their business and transport centre. Apart from that a Government specially bent on popularising the State railways can scarcely but see that money expanded on providing so progressive a town as Hastings with a suitable station will be money well and profitably spent.
As has been already pointed out in this column and as the Mayor has also emphasised, Hastings is peculiarly placed inasmuch as the Railway Department holds an extremely valuable freehold property that can be regarded in no other way than as an endowment given to it by an old Hastings citizen for the purpose of providing the town with a railway station sufficient for its needs.
From that property – stretching from, and including, the Post Office along Russell street and Heretaunga street to the Grand Hotel – the Department has, over the last forty years or more, gathered ground rents which, accumulated at interest and capitalised, would probably more than provide the cost of a new station. On the other hand, even current rental – especially if, as is justifiable, a fair rental for the Post Office site is included – would go a long way, if not all the way, to providing interest on such cost. To this, of course, have to be added the highly valuable business sites that would be made available by shifting the station. All this value, too, has accrued to the Department solely as the result of the enterprise shown by Hastings citizens in building up their town and its business to their present proportions. There is thus no expenditure on public works that can find better warrant than on a new Hastings railway station.