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Time restrictions to be added to 30kph school zones

Time restrictions to be added to 30kph school zones
The 30kph school speed limits in Ashburton will be retained and supplementary signs with 'School Days 8.30am to 9.30am and 2.30pm to 3.30 pm' will be added once the Government law change allows it. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

30 kilometre per hour (kph) speed limits imposed around Ashburton’s schools are to become time-restricted but only after new laws kick in.

Ashburton council has decided slower limit will apply on school days 8.30am to 9.30am and 2.30pm to 3.30pm.

Permanent 30kph urban school speed zones were introduced in July last year but after just one month, Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown called for a review, claiming they were not working.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has since announced the Government is to amend the setting of speeds law, including allowing variable speed limits on roads approaching schools during pick-up and drop-off times, rather than permanent reductions.

The council has resolved to enforce the variable limit once the Government makes the changes to permit the signs.

Councillor Richard Wilson had been keen to “correct the mistake” by making the change immediately, and not wait for the Government changes.

There are similar signs already in use elsewhere in the country, Wilson said.

“To put them up now, people understand it, and we all believe that is the law,” he said.

Chief executive Hamish Riach explained it would be encouraging residents to break the law, as the 30kph would still be the legal speed limit until the law is changed.

The recommended option had been for the speed limits to be restricted to school days between 8.30am and 3.30pm.

Councillor Russell Ellis supported that, wanting to put "child safety over and above a small amount of inconvenience for some of our drivers".

His motion for the daytime restrictions didn’t get enough support from the other councillors.

Councillor Tony Todd said he lives close to two schools and assured the other councillors there “is very little action” outside the school drop off and pick up times.

“During the day all the kids are basically in the grounds.”

The all-day time frame would be overreaching, Wilson said.

It can happen, but “children don’t just run out on the road”, he said.

“All our roads have very good footpaths on them, and that is where you walk.”

With the signage timings sorted, Mayor Brown now wants further consideration and consistency in where the signs are placed.

“I’ve heard some are placed well and others are placed too far away from the school. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern in them,” Brown said.

The signs are placed by the best judgment of staff based on access to the school and can be considered in a further review once the speed limits have been in place for a year, Chamberlain said.

By Jonathan Leask