Cafe owner upset about road closure

Cafe owner upset about road closure

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 08:07 21/02/2013
Vault
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

LOCKED IN: Dannevirke's Vault Cafe owner Gaylene Simpson is aggrieved at the lack of community consultation concerning a temporary road closure of State Highway 2 this weekend.

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A disgruntled Dannevirke cafe owner is asking for more community consultation about the timing of road closures such as the town's main street.

State Highway 2, which turns into Dannevirke's High St, is being closed for an hour on Saturday to host the town's Scandinavian Festival street parade.

Vault Cafe owners Gaylene and Matt Simpson said the closure would have a negative impact on businesses in town.

"I'm all for the Scandinavian Festival, I think it's great for Dannevirke and really good for the community, it's just the time of the parade was poorly thought out . . . and it was never, ever discussed with us," Mrs Simpson said.

On the same day, the popular Mission Estate Winery Concert, which attracts crowds of about 25,000 people annually, is on in Napier.

Mrs Simpson, who bought the cafe located on the corner of High St and Gordon St five years ago, said the traffic passing through town almost doubled during the Mission weekend and the diversion's mid-morning timing fell during one of the cafe's busiest periods.

The 9.45am-to-10.45am shutdown would see cars diverted from Dannevirke's main drag to two streets over, meaning the cafe's customers would have to park and walk down if they wanted a bite to eat or a coffee.

When Mrs Simpson found out about the closure, it was only days before it was being presented to councillors, so she wrote a hasty letter to voice her displeasure.

An NZ Transport Agency spokesman said the road closure application went through the proper procedures and the agency was not aware of any objections.

Tararua District Council chief executive Blair King said "expectations" had been created through road closures in the past.

"If it was a closure for the car rally, we tend to get the organisers to go through the particular roads affected and drop letters off."

But that didn't happen for this year's biennial Scandinavian Festival, he said.

The festival's organising committee did post a notice to retailers and residents in the Bush Telegraph, a community paper published in Pahiatua, and it also sent a copy to Dannevirke police, fire and ambulance services, the town's community board and the Chamber of Commerce, but Mrs Simpson said she received nothing.

He said Mrs Simpson had valid concerns, but people had raised concerns when it was too late.

If businesses wanted a more detailed level of consultation "that's fair enough", and they should approach the council about that, he said.

He also estimated the daily car count down Dannevirke's High St would be 5000 to 7000 vehicles per day.

Mrs Simpson is keeping her business open on the day.

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- Manawatu Standard

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