Nelson Mayor Nick Smith wants consultation on reducing speed limits across Nelson and Tasman paused until there is clarity from the new Government on policy and funding for the cost of implementing any changes, and to avoid consultation over the Christmas holiday break.
“I do not support closing submissions by the published date of 7 January, 2024 – in the middle of the summer holiday break. This timing feeds suspicions of bad faith and the consultation not being genuine,” Mayor Nick says.
“These proposals include options for significant speed reductions on most Nelson-Tasman roads in keeping with the previous Government’s direction. All three parties – National, ACT and NZ First – working to form the new Government have pledged to change the policy.”
In his Chairperson’s Report for a meeting on Tuesday, 14 November 2023, of the Joint Committee of Tasman District and Nelson City Councils, Mayor Nick requests the co-chairs write to the Joint Nelson Tasman Regional Transport Committee seeking deferral of the consultation on the Joint Nelson Tasman Speed Management Plan until the New Year. He also requests that the Mayors of Nelson and Tasman urgently write to the Minister of Transport as soon as possible after appointment seeking clarity on government policy with respect to road speed limits so the Nelson Tasman Speed Management Plan can occur with a greater degree of certainty.
Mayor Nick’s call comes after the Joint Nelson Tasman Regional Transport Committee on 27 October 2023 approved options for speed reductions on urban and rural roads for public consultation. The previous Government’s guidelines are for urban roads to typically be reduced to 30kmh and the bulk of rural roads to 60kmh (unsealed) or 80kmh (sealed).
“We need to get clarity on Government policy including whether the Government will continue to fund any changes, before going out and consulting on the proposed changes. The estimated cost of the previous Government’s recommended speed limits is over $10 million for Nelson and Tasman,” Mayor Nick says. “Councils need to recognise that the public has voted for a change of Government that will be made up of parties pledging significant change in speed management policy.
“It is unlikely the new Government will meet the millions of dollars in costs of implementing the speed limit reductions and we need to be open with ratepayers on these costs in the consultation process for it to be meaningful.”
Mayor Nick says he also has concerns about consulting over the summer holiday break.
“The debate on appropriate speed limits has been ongoing for years and delaying consultation to the New Year, taking into account changes in Government policy and avoiding the Christmas break, is the right thing to do.
“I’m quite sympathetic to speed limit reductions outside schools and in some communities but the proposals for blanket reductions on most roads go too far. These speed limit proposals include options that impact on almost every road and street in the region and we need to time the consultation process to enable the public to be fully engaged.”
The meeting of the Joint Committee of Tasman District and Nelson City Councils is due to be held in the Nelson City Council Chamber from 10.30am on Tuesday, 14 November 2023.