Monday, April 22, 2024

Community feedback sought on Waimārama Beach safety

Hastings District Council will soon go to the local community with four options for rules on future vehicle use on Waimārama beach.

Concerns around the safety of beach users from vehicles on the beach were raised by residents and Police late last year.

The options include retaining the status quo, a time extension to the current ban to the full year, an extension of the ban area to Tiakitai Road for the full year, or an extension of the ban area to the northern part of the beach for the full year.

Currently there is a bylaw introduced in 2013 that allows vehicles on the beach, aside from a strip in front of the surf club between 8am and 8pm from Labour Weekend through to 30 April each year.

In response to the recent concerns, Council held a drop-in day at Waimārama Hall, as well as offering online and hard copy feedback forms to get people’s views on what vehicle usage, if any, they thought was appropriate.

More than 500 responses were received, 51% from people who identified themselves Waimārama residents, 44% as non-Waimārama residents and 5% as non-permanent residents.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents raised safety as being an issue of concern. A wide range of views were captured, and of the solutions proposed 41% of respondents supported a total ban of vehicles on the whole beach at all times, 37% favoured the status quo, 19% called for greater enforcement, nine per cent suggested an extension of the current ban, 7% supported some sort of permit system, and 11% called for more either more signage/education about the rules or solutions such as cameras and gates.

While the upcoming consultation is focused on rules for vehicles, Council staff will continue to work with Police on enforcement of the rules that already apply (the bylaw rules, that vehicles must be registered and warranted, and that a speed limit of 20kmh).

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst thanked all of those who had taken the time to put their views forward.

“Safety at Waimārama Beach is a whole-of-community issue, and we want any action we take to be directed by our community.

“People use our beaches in different ways and we need to find a solution that ensures everyone who enjoys spending time there – whether it be for leisure or recreation – can do so safely and in way that does not unreasonably disrupt others’ enjoyment.”

For any of the options, emergency vehicles would always retain access to the beach, Council said.

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