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Speed vote split

Masterton councillors have voted 5-4 to adopt a speed management plan consultation document proposing slashed speed limits around schools, marae, and on “high-risk” roads.

But with some of the proposed speed reductions mandated by the government, elected members have shared concerns about how limited the consultation is.

The council document outlines a 10-year-vision and three-year implementation plan for “a whole of network approach to speed management” and involves a changed speed limit on 75 sections of Masterton roads.

The council’s initial focus is on roads near schools and marae, and “high-risk” routes.

By 2027, the council will be required by the government to have reduced the limit around schools and marae to a maximum of 30kmh in urban areas and 60kmh in rural areas. The plan must be certified by Waka Kotahi.

The consultation is limited to two questions: “Do you agree with the council’s proposed approach and principles?”; and “Are there any high-risk roads [excluding state highways] not included in the above that you believe should be included in the draft Speed Management Plan?”

Councillor Stella Lennox said these questions were “a little bit light”.

“Given the pretty horrific result we got from our friends at Waka Kotahi around the consultation on the main highway, I wondered if our consultation was a little bit light – two questions.

“A lot of people have some angst around some of these roads. Maybe we should ask them which ones they think are listed that we shouldn’t reduce?”

A council staff member responded that many of these changes are mandated “so we didn’t want to ask the question ‘do you agree with this change’ if we can’t not make that change”.

“Following the angst after the consultation on State Highway 2 and the public feeling like they submitted on certain areas and were not listened to, that is why we have taken the more light-touch approach so that we don’t create this belief that changes can be made when we are not able to make the change,” the staff member said.

“So, really this is informing and engaging rather than consulting, then?” Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson responded, while Councillor Craig Bowyer asked whether the council was “actually going to take any notice of [submissions]”.

GRAPHIC/TIMES-AGE

“Currently we have huge public backlash on any reductions of roading speed and I think we have all been around bureaucracy enough to know that sometimes consultation is treated very lightly,” Bowyer said.

“I’d like to see us take notice of what the people say and move forward with that.”

Mayor Gary Caffell and councillors Tim Nelson, Marama Tuuta, Brent Goodwin, and Tom Hullena voted to adopt the consultation document.

Johnson, Lennox, Bowyer, and David Holmes voted against.

Consultation feedback will be open until May 1.

A hearing would be held on May 17 and 18, with deliberations on June 7.

The council is set to adopt the plan on June 28, and Waka Kotahi is due to certify the plan in July. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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