Drivers air misgivings over sign

By Lawrence Gullery


A new business venture that aims to catch the eye of people in Hastings has prompted complaints from motorists worried it'll distract drivers from keeping focus on the road.

But the operator of Hastings' first major electronic billboard said she had put more than a year's worth of research into how best to use the new sign, before it began operating on the corner of St Aubyn St and Hastings St South recently.

Flash 24/7 Limited director Tamzin Stevenson said she was surprised to hear the 4m by 3m sign had generated negative feedback when all of the comments she'd had were positive.

Hastings resident Jackie Blair, in a letter to Hawke's Bay Today, said the sign on top of the HSM Group building was distracting drivers and did not add towards improving the cityscape.

"I thought we were proud of our natural landscape and vistas. We do not need the bright lights and tack of other big cities," she wrote.

Ms Stevenson said she had spent a lot of time researching the use of electronic billboards and had a permit from the Hastings District Council to operate the sign.

Her research included looking at similar signs overseas and developing a plan that would suit Hastings.

"We had to make sure we had a medium which would not cause any traffic issues. A lot of signs have gone up in other areas and they have proven to be more of a positive addition than negative," Ms Stevenson said.

She had also reviewed an electronic sign that had been operating in Gisborne for five years.

"Our research says since the Gisborne sign went up there have been few accidents at that intersection. The Gisborne council thought there might be some problems too but it's e actually worked to slow down traffic," she said.

The Hastings sign operated until 7pm and then a picture of a clock appeared, until resuming in the morning. Ms Stevenson said the sign was set up for small businesses to use but could be hired by anyone.

"It doesn't go 24/7 but it has the ability to. It can be used in a natural disaster by the council to inform the public and keep them posted about what's happening, for example," she said.

The council's planning and regulatory services manager John O'Shaughnessy said the design of the sign met all the rules of the Hastings district plan and did not require a consent. The council had received three complaints about the sign and staff were working to resolve brightness issues.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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