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Dunedin City Council voted to end its ‘‘Safer CBD’’ Covid-19 response ‘‘as soon as is practicable’’ in a 14-1 vote this afternoon.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the cost of the programme — subsidised by the NZ Transport Agency to a tune of 90% — had been ‘‘a small price to pay’’ for the precautionary measures.
‘‘It hasn’t been a huge commitment that we made that proved to be unnecessary,’’ he said.
The ‘‘visceral’’ response the council’s measures had evoked among city residents though had been ‘‘disappointing and a little embarrassing at times’’.
The measures were taken after a May 15 vote in an attempt to draw people back into the city centre after lockdown -- and they soon after proved to be controversial.
Cr Carmen Houlahan — the lone dissenting vote today — said she was voting against the proposal not because she was opposed to moving the speed limit in George St from 10kmh back up to 30kmh — but because she had ‘‘serious, serious concerns about leaving the dots in the road’’.
‘‘Are you mad?’’ she said.
‘‘People will think if the dots are there that it will be safe to walk out there.
‘‘People will still walk out on that street.
‘‘It still looks like it was a safe street.’’
The tactics at the May council meeting when colleagues approved the measures amounted to ‘‘emotional blackmail’’ as councillors were told lives could be put at risk if they did not vote for the ‘‘Safer CBD’’ measures.
However, council chief executive Sue Bidrose said it took council staff about a week to 10 days after the measures were implemented to determine there was ‘‘no desire’’ for footpath users to adhere to social distancing recommendations while shopping downtown.
Council infrastructure services general manager Simon Drew said the council had not received confirmation in writing yet, but he understood the 90% funding for the programme from the NZ Transport Agency extended to the calming measures’ removal as well.
To date, $25,000 of the approved $40,000 budget had been spent.
He said in the past, under a 30kmh limit, the average speed in the road had been 28kmh and with the 10kmh limit and the coloured dots, that average had dropped to 22kmh.