Tikorangi residents overturn road report

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014

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The rules have taken a back seat and Tikorangi residents' plea for a lower speed limit has been answered.

At yesterday's New Plymouth District Council meeting Tikorangi residents slammed a roading report that said it was against the rules to lower the speed limit from 100kmh to 70kmh on Otaraoa Rd.

"It is too easy for your officers to make these claims, to repeat company PR as fact," Tikorangi resident Abbie Jury said. "The report might as well have said: ‘There's nothing special about Tikorangi. Swallow your medicine if you know what is good for you'."

Jury criticised the way council roading officers had responded to 10 other issues the residents had raised and said the document was "a 20-page padded report explaining why none of our concerns require significant action".

She believed the report dismissed nearly every concern by the residents.

The council had been inactive about the effects of heavy petrochemical traffic for far too long, and the report was the final straw, she said.

Council roading officers were determined to discredit and sideline residents' concerns, she said, and the elected councillors had a responsibility to reject the report and listen to their community.

"If you accept this report you are saying nothing needs to be done, everything is fine, and Tikorangi residents had just better suck it up and stay home," she said.

About 30 Tikorangi residents were there to support Jury and to press the council to acknowledge there were a raft of issues associated with the petrochemical industry in the area. Speeding trucks, unnecessary road works, unsafe truck loads and sub standard public sector planning were among just a few of the issues, she said.

Councillors wasted no time in questioning the roading team about why they recommended the speed limit stay at 100kmh.

Councillor Keith Allum said there had been significant evidence from the residents about the safety of having heavy trucks speed along that road.

He questioned whether the national provision for setting speed limits, which the council abides by, was a set of rules, or if it was actually a set of guidelines.

Max Aves, the council's manager of roading assets, conceded they were indeed guidelines, but said while some roads met the guidelines for lowering a speed limit, Otaraoa Rd did not.

The council needed to follow the guidelines so it did not set a precedent for speed limit changes around the district, Aves said.

Councillors rubbished the idea of setting a precedent and said their job was to listen to the community and its concerns.

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Councillor Craig McFarlane said the report sat uneasy with him and called for the council to approve an 80kmh speed limit, despite the officers' recommendations. "It is time to get answers. And it is time we listened."

Councillors unanimously voted to accept the introduction of a new 80kmh speed limit along the whole stretch of Otaraoa Rd.

Consultation with affected parties and residents must be done before the new limit will be adopted.

- Taranaki Daily News

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