Backlash forces rethink on Gore streets trial

A courtesy crossing in Broughton St has been transformed with a refuge island and bulbous kerbs....
A courtesy crossing in Broughton St has been transformed with a refuge island and bulbous kerbs. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Following public backlash, the Gore District Council will confer with the NZ Transport Agency about cutting short some of its Streets Alive trial changes.

The three-month trial changes aim to make the Southland town's streetscape safer and more people-oriented.

The project is 90% funded by a $900,000 contribution from the NZ Transport Agency.

The motion was carried at a council meeting yesterday in which the results of a public survey were presented and a public petition was received.

Councillor Glenys Dickson said councillors needed to respond to ratepayers' demands.

‘‘We have to listen to what people are telling us through the petition and the survey and do the right thing.’’

The report on the 742 survey responses results was presented by independent contractor Rebecca McElrea.

The council’s ‘‘pocket parks’’, which blocked or partially blocked five streets, were unpopular. A majority of 72% of 726 responses were negative, while 19% were neutral and just 10% were positive.

The town’s 45 new courtesy crossings were also unpopular, with 65% of 723 people responding negatively. Just 13% liked them.

The new parklets and seating in Irk St were well received by 44% of 734 respondents, while 27% were neutral and 29% did not like the changes.

A majority of 54% of 738 people said they liked the five new roundabouts, while 31% did not.

A petition of 1168 signatures was presented by co-organiser Christopher Scoles, calling for the council to open up the streets that were blocked off, and remove planter boxes which marked the courtesy crossings.

Far from making Gore’s streets safer, the changes posed a danger to traffic, cyclists and children, he said.

‘‘It is clear that those who set up Streets Alive don’t know that Gore is known for its wide open streets.’’

Councillor Doug Grant said that despite the strong feeling around the trial, it should run its course

‘‘I believe we should finish it... [there are] only six weeks to go,’’ Cr Grant said.

Councillor Bronwyn Reid had reservations about the feedback.

Unlike those who opposed the trials, people who were happy with how things were progressing did not think they needed to speak up, she said.

‘‘The negativity becomes a big thing.’’

- By Fiona Ellis 

fiona.ellis@odt.co.nz 

Comments

Gore is a large provincial town serving a large rural hinterland from which people are not going to walk or cycle.
Unlike Coronation Street where people often sit in a little parklet, Gore has few renters in flats with no garden space of their own, nor within easy distance of parks, playgrounds and public gardens. It's not even all that far to get right out of town into the countryside.

Other than introducing currently fashionable impediments to smooth flow of traffic including cycles, what is the purported need for these parklets and planters?

Gore people seem bewildered by their council's perception of this "need". Being from Dunedin where we are fashion victims too, dealing with planner and traffic-hater induced traffic chaos compared with our previous easy-flow city, I urge Gore to learn what suits Gore not what diploma-waving planning graduates are taught is great for Amsterdam, Luton or Copenhagen - or Weatherfield.

GDC provided a Forum & a Facebook site for comments.The Forum was closed on 15th April due to 90 % unhappiness about the changes.Facebook continues with 90 % negative comments.
Those who signed the petition did so because they were unhappy.
The independent survey conducted by Council reflected overall negativity.
Bronwyn Reid was pictured with the GDC Roading Manager at the Croydon Lodge,consulting with handpicked people,prior to implementation.
Clearly they expected the public to be very happy with the plan.
Is she suggesting that there are a large group who did not complete the survey because they were happy.
It was clear to all who read the Council Sites,plus letters to the Ensign,that the outcome of any poll would not be in favour of what Bronwyn & the Roading Manager were championing.

Gore council (and DCC) need to stand up to the muppets in Wellington who are forcing these stupid, dangerous changes on us. Good on the sensible people of Gore who have made their voices heard. Now we just need councils to listen and learn.

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