Complaints over George St changes

An onslaught of complaints about Dunedin’s main street makeover has prompted calls for an urgent reconsideration of the initiative, and a petition has been launched calling for a vote of no confidence in Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins and several councillors.

Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied
Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied

The petition is by Dunedin resident David Thomson, who is concerned about the way the Dunedin City Council has "pushed through policies with little or no public consultation" - including the change of speed to 10kmh and dots in George St.

In an email to the council, Cr Carmen Houlahan called for urgent reconsideration of the changes to George St, given so many people were so angry about it.

"Every news item about this has generated a surge of negative comments - way worse than the Octagon trial, and that was bad enough.

"If we are really engaging with our community, we need to listen to the public. They are not happy. The shared space is not working."

Council city services general manager Sandy Graham said the decision could be reconsidered if any councillor gave chief executive Sue Bidrose notice of what they wanted to revoke, and it had to be signed by no less than a third of the councillors.

Ms Graham said the council resolution showed the changes were temporary and able to be changed when physical distancing was no longer required or when the country moved down from Level 2.

Faith Bishop (1) plays on one of the spots in George St. Her mother Caroline is concerned it...
Faith Bishop (1) plays on one of the spots in George St. Her mother Caroline is concerned it looks too much like a playground, which might entice toddlers out into oncoming traffic. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The majority of councillors spoken to by the Otago Daily Times yesterday agreed there had been an overwhelming amount of negative feedback.

Cr Andrew Whiley, who voted against the changes, also said the council should reconsider the decision, but it should be done in a month’s time rather than next week.

"We do have to go through a due process. Council has talked about this all the way through as being a trial, and we’ve got to let the trial take place, as much as I disagree with it."

Cr Lee Vandervis also voted against the changes and said the decision could be revisited, but it would require some councillors to change their minds.

"Given councillors’ past attitudes, that is unlikely. The fact is, the majority of councillors voted for it, and that’s a decision we have to live with."

Cr Mike Lord said he voted against the decision, but believed it was made fairly.

"What’s important is that we didn’t break with any procedures, and on that basis, I wouldn’t go and re-look at it."

"If you change the decision now, what happens next week?

"You get a whole heap of people screaming out, ‘this is wrong, you should have had it with more coloured dots’."

Cr Steve Walker, who voted for the change, agreed.

"If we reversed every decision at the first whiff of dissension, absolutely nothing would ever progress."

Crs Jim O’Malley and Sophie Barker, who also voted for the change, said much of the negativity towards the changes came from people who believed the 10kmh speed limit had been implemented for 12 months.

But it had not, Cr O’Malley said.

"In fact, it will only stay in place while social distancing is enforced by the Government. So the speed limit may only be in place until we go back to Alert Level 1."

Cr Chris Staynes, who voted for the change, agreed that once social distancing was gone, there would be no need for people to spread out on the road.

"The picture is continually changing. We don’t know what Covid rules will change - there’s a review on Monday. So it may be that this is very short-lived."

However, he and Cr Rachel Elder, who was absent for the vote, said if the rules did not change, and given the level of negativity, there would need to be some reviews of whether change was required.

Cr Staynes rejected any suggestion the changes were designed to slowly bring Dunedin residents around to pedestrianising George St permanently.

"This is purely in response to Covid-19. It’s certainly not permanent pedestrianisation by stealth."


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Its not the 10kph speed limit that is the issue, its the whole thing, What on earth is the point of it?!?!? Its completely meaningless.

This council is stupidly pathetic. We are the laughing stock of the country.
They have made the main road look like a children's playground in the name of safety.
If a child is injured or killed, or anyone else for that matter, we all know where to place the responsibility.
I wonder if ACC or Worksafe would like to comment.
Thankfully, everyone I've noticed crossing the road on foot, do so with traditional caution and in the appropriate place.
It's NOT councils money they are wasting, it's the Rate Payers, the very people they are putting at risk with this madness.
It's the private sector of the economy that has taken the hit by this pandemic response. If our grossly over entitled council can't grasp that, then how can we have any confidence in them.

Cr Andrew Whiley...."We do have to go through a due process"

So, what happened to that 'due process' when you rushed through the changes, Andrew?
Because it seems you ignored due consultation with the public, ratepayers and the business community!....Just another case of the DCC's 'we know best' attitude.

What an utter waste of rate payers money and looks like a kindy playground..Not a mention of any speed limit and most drivers will likely get confused.
Buses and cars are still travelling at same speed.
Do the council seriously expect us to walk amongst traffic?
I hope no one gets hit - if they do they should sue the council

What did they serious think? This is the engine behind Hawkins and it needs to stop Where is Benson pope on this?

That link you posted, points to every main centre in New Zealand. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. So what's your point?

It's about time folks. These people are in office solely to benefit and enrich themselves. They don't care about us nor the things we want. They are PUBLIC SERVANTS. They work for US and they are accountable to us. WE need to remind these people of that and this is the perfect issue to do it. There hasn't been an active case of CORVID in the SDHB in over 5 weeks. People don't need to reminded of social distancing. We've done a pretty good job without the mayor and the DCC providing any oversight. So why would we need these stupid, idiotic bubbles? Im so sick and tired of hearing this mayor and his stumbling, bumbling interviews bleeting about nonsense that is only important to him. The population of Dunedin is sick and tired of these do nothing politicians. They are a bunch of dimwits and need to go!

If something is obviously wrong then you don't need to keep doing it. You don't keep hitting your finger with a hammer to realise you should just stop.

But you will never hear the Greens admit that the attempt to effectively close George St to vehicles isn't a good idea. This isn't temporary for them, just a step to the new reality. No matter what ratepayers want.

And once again we are seeing the DCC planners wasting ratepayer moiney with a design which is just plain stupid. When the Greens councillors go at the next election they should be quickly followed by the DCC planners.

To quote KeithMc -"When the Greens councillors go at the next election they should be quickly followed by the DCC planners"

....and frankly, the CEO, Too much entitlement within the DCC for quite a few years, time to scrub out the pot. Only a very few of them actually listen to the ratepayers, many appear afraid to speak up due to 'overwhelming' personalities, and the remainder just roll with the motions. And now we see a Mayor operating far beyond his depth, knowledge and experience. Where do we sign the petition of no confidence David?

So we have to be forced to change our minds about this intrusion into our way of life but as one DCC member said the members who created this rubbish decision will be very unlikely to change their minds to reverse it. The national CD19 restrictions have to come to an end before the road returns to normal.

Mr Mayor, have you forgotten who you work for? Who you represent? The end of the rainbow isn't at the DCC. There never is going to be unicorn parking at the octagon. Leprechauns aren't going to be serving green beer to cruise ship patrons on the closed streets around the octagon. And fairies aren't going to be enforcing social distancing on the parkinglot now called George street. The people of Dunedin see you for what you are. Get with the program mate! People are hurting. We need real solutions not the BS your peddling. If your not up for the job, vacate and let someone who has a clue run the city!

They would have a better chance of regaining respect for their judgement if they admitted when they got things wrong then put them right asap. I know it is a long shot given the amount of foolishness ratepayers have seen and the amount of money wasted on imposing poorly thought out follies, but what else do they have? Just keep on wasting money on things the people who live here do not want, then raising rates to pay for necessities, in other words same-same? Obviously there is a majority who are not in favour of getting stuff right first time, so putting it right is the next best thing.

So where is the link to no-confidence petition? Could you make it easier for readers to find and sign it (I guess many will want to)?

Where can I sign this petition in a vote for no confidence???

At what point will this idiotic council deface our historic buildings with coloured dots as well?

The council have the mental capacity of kindergarten children. Their artwork - at OUR expense - is of a similar kindergarten standard.

Throw them ALL out!

This dot fetish party and a speed limit of 10kph implemented to "facilitate safer social distancing" reeks of something toxic. It seems $40,000 is a phenomenal expense simply for a "short term" scheme to encourage safer social distancing? And why get all excited about initiating this now as we enter Alert Level 2? Back in the heady days of Alert Level 4 when tensions were high and deaths had occurred, I witnessed a great public self initiated observance of social distancing and general precautionary measures, simply from following the advice promoted on media across all platforms. How Polka dots and 10kph speed limits would directly encourage the public to observe greater social distancing on the footpaths & street, remains puzzling? Also, having no new rates of infection in the South and an impending release back to No Covid normality, rather makes all this redundant. However, it leaves me in no doubt, given the hurried and almost covert implementation of the recent changes, that he council has positioned itself, poised in readiness, to dramatically reform George Street.

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