A proposal to introduce blanket 30km/h speed restrictions in West Coast villages such as Blackball and Moana will be put to the public for their views.

The West Coast Regional Transport Committee has decided to consult on a speed management plan for local roads and school zones in the region — despite a shift in national road safety priorities by the Government.

However, the committee decision did come with some lively debate.

Committee chairman Peter Ewen noted the implications of the change of Government direction were still emerging.

“We’re in a state of transition,” Ewen said.

In December, Transport Minister Simeon Brown issued a directive to Waka Kotahi and councils around the country to cease blanket speed limit reductions.

West Coast Regional Council acting planning team manager Lillie Sadler said speed revisions for local district council roads and school speed zones were still proposed, excluding the State highway network administered by the NZ Transport Agency.

“Once we’ve got feedback from the public, that can inform the path forward,” she said.

Consultant Matthew Abley said the region’s three district road authorities supported a regional speed management plan as the way to go, “not withstanding the changes”.

The draft focused on local roads, with a consistent approach across the region, he said.

West Coast Regional Council RTC representative Peter Haddock said the draft had been “a requirement” when formulated but the new Government direction meant local authorities should wait before going forward with it.

“I believe the balance of the speed management plans for other roads should be put on hold before Government comes up with their full policy on it.”

Haddock said some of the proposed permanent 30km/h zones for Blackball and Moana were bound to be “contentious” particularly where ‘variable’ speed settings could be more appropriate.

Moana has busy holiday and weekend traffic but it was a town largely “with no-one to be seen” and residents had sought variable speed zones for the busy periods, he said.

Imposing a 30km/h zone on the main road into Blackball, for over 1km before reaching the busiest part of the village, was “quite slow”.

On the other hand, most of the speed zones proposed around West Coast schools “are really good”.

Greymouth Mayor and RTC representative Tania Gibson said her council was “shocked and horrified” by the report proposing speed limit changes.

“It really came out of the blue for our council — speed limits dropping to 30km/h nearly everywhere. I’m pleased to see it’s come back in this form and that they’ve actually listened,” Gibson said, of the draft.

However, she foresaw “pushback” and Blackball tended to be “very vocal”.

Gibson said her chief concern was how the public would be consulted; she wanted the draft to go back to her council first before going to the public.

Grey District Council acting transport manager Paddy Blanchfield said the draft Moana 30km/h speed zone reflected community feedback to cover the whole village with the proposed zone.

“That was a request from the community, and that was something they were comfortable with. We haven’t had a lot of kickback — it was more of a request.”

Westland District Council RTC councillor Riley Burden said his council had also been shocked at the 30km/h speed zones.

However, he noted two areas not in the draft which ordinarily had a low speed zone: Grimmond Ave in Ross through the Ross Domain, and the waterfront at Lake Kaniere.

By Brendon McMahon, Local Democracy Reporter

Local Democracy Reporting is local authority journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air