Removal of gates ruffles residents

By John Cousins

Gates blocking traffic access to a neighbourhood in Papamoa's Coast subdivision have been removed by the council after a resident threatened legal action.

The barriers came down last weekend, infuriating others who lived there because of the upsurge in vandalism and thefts since pedestrian access was opened up from Waterford Downs three months ago.

The residents led by Warren Dwight and Buddy Mikaere unsuccessfully appealed to a council meeting yesterday to revoke the decision made at staff level and reinstate the gates.

Their homes were in what had effectively been a gated community for nearly four years, with controlled access from Papamoa Beach Rd down Coast Boulevard, a private road that had yet to be vested in the council because The Coast development had been caught in the global economic downturn.

But all that changed when a resident, who Mr Mikaere said was trying to sell his home, took action to open the gates that prevented traffic access to the no-exit group of houses from Gloucester Rd east and Grenada St. There had been an immediate upsurge in vandalism since Sunday.

People had nowhere to go and hung around, with police being called to remove hooligans who were making nuisances of themselves, he said.

Mr Mikaere said that once their neighbourhood linked into roads to be built on the other side of The Coast, and there were normal traffic flows, then it would be fine.

However, that was still several years away.

Residents said they felt they should have been consulted by the council before the gates were removed and said speed humps were now needed on the main approaches to the roundabout, saying there had already been problems with speeding cars and screeching tyres.

They also called for more lighting to illuminate the back of the park and playground.

Mr Dwight said there was a lot of empty sections and open space for vandals to escape into. "Lighting is an absolute imperative for residents," he said.

Council's corporate legal advisor Kirstie Elder said there was a common law right allowing people to pass along public roads, and this had been raised by a resident.

The gates had been interfering with the public right of access and the resident no longer wished to be in a gated community.

The gates were interfering with the public's right of access and creating a legal nuisance, putting the council at significant legal risk, she said.

Meeting chairman, councillor David Stewart, said the council's hands were tied.

The meeting called for a report to see what could be done in the meantime about the problems being experienced by residents.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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