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Few speed limit supporters

Out of the 163 submitters to South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] on proposals to reduce speed on high-priority roads, 74 per cent disagreed with the council’s approach and principles, a council committee has heard.

There were 183 submissions on all proposals; to lower the speed limit near schools, near marae, and on roads designated as “high priority” [in other words, those with a record of serious crashes].

A report tabled before the hearings committee last week showed most submitters agreed with reducing speed near schools [74 per cent of 174 submitters], and just over half [52 per cent of 168] agreed to similar proposals near marae.

The public consultation follows the launch of the government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, targeting a 40 per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

In South Wairarapa, the proposals includes seven roads in Greytown, five in Featherston, 20 in Martinborough, and 19 in other parts of South Wairarapa.

“A large majority of submitters were opposed to the proposals laid out for high-priority roads, and many changes were requested,” the report said.

Submitters said the reductions would frustrate drivers.

“It cost time for people travelling. Even if it’s one minute per person per day, if you times that by the amount of people travelling, it adds up,” said one.

Several people pointed out that many factors cause accidents, with one noting, “Reducing speed will NOT stop the idiots; they will always speed.”

“Whatever happened to teaching people to look right, look left, look right again, and if safe, cross the road,” said another.

“The ideology of the policymakers’ aspirational concept of Road to Zero is flawed. Have they not factored in that we as humans make mistakes?”

Some submitters wanted additional roads – or parts of roads – included, like those near the Featherston Sports Hub, and adjacent to the town’s sports stadium.

More than 30 spoke at the public hearing.

Rural South Wairarapa resident Jenny Boyne lives near Tora. She described the exercise as largely unnecessary.

“We are very disappointed that you continue to waste our time on policies that are of no benefit to anyone,” she said.

“On the arterial roads, the conditions – that is, the weather, the time of the day, and [the time of] the year – dictates the speed you can drive on it. Going through the spillway at Tuturumuri when it’s got water on it, you
only go at 10 kph. Therefore, when the road is good, there is no reason to go at 60 or 80 kph on the straights.”

Storm Robertson submitted both personally and on behalf of the Martinborough Community Board, of which he is chair.

“In general, I am in agreement with the speed changes,” he said, proposing that definitions were standardised to reduce potential confusion.

Martinborough resident Rosy Fenwicke listed the objectives of the Ruamahanga Roads programme [in effect since 2019] as maximising efficiency, increasing regional consistency, and value for money, as well as sharing and optimising the use of internal resources.

“My submission is that lowering speed limits from current levels will achieve none of the above, and in fact [apart from point two] actually counter the stated objectives.

“I have three questions for you: what is the problem lowering speed limits will resolve; is there proof that lowering speed limits will resolve this poorly defined problem; and could there be other problems in the remit of the SWDC that are actual problems with identifiable solutions and would provide better outcomes and value for ratepayer dollars spent?” Fenwicke asked.

Joint public consultation on the plan by Carterton District Council [CDC] and South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] took place in June and July.

CDC received 264 submissions, and SWDC 183 – just under 450 in total. The councils planned to manage decision-making separately, with SWDC’s public hearings last week and CDC’s scheduled for September 5 with deliberations two weeks later.

More than 40 roads, or parts of roads, in Carterton district are included.

Stefan Corbett, SWDC group manager partnerships and operations, said the council is pleased with the level of community engagement. He said further work on the plan is underway and described the hearings session as “active and engaging”.

“Feedback from the public has been constructive and useful and we are now assessing it in totality, together with recommendations and guidance from the Hearings Panel.”

Corbett said the next steps are further targeted consultation, liaison with CDC on its direction, and completion of an interim speed management plan for consideration by the council.

“Timing isn’t set for submission of the speed management plan,” he said. -NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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