Vehicles will be banned from Waimarama beach this summer to provide better safety for the thousands of people expected to head to the popular Hawke's Bay destination over the next couple of months.
Hastings District Council approved the ban at its meeting yesterday, which would come into force on December 20 until March 1, 2013, daily from 8am to 6pm. It would then be reviewed by the council and police to decide whether the ban should be permanent.
The council's parks and property services manager Colin Hosford said there had been repeated requests from the community to ban cars on the beach, next to the swimming areas at Waimarama Domain.
The main problem was the high number of cars, motorcycles and quadbikes driving through the heavily populated beachfront. Mr Hosford's report said feedback from the public was that "it is only a matter of time before someone is killed".
"Imposing the ban has strong police support to control poor driving on the beach and to protect public safety. If council approves the ban it could be criticised for not consulting widely with the public.
"However, there have been numerous public meetings which have sent a strong message that the ban is needed and desired. Council could be criticised if it doesn't approve the ban, for not acting quickly enough and not taking public concerns seriously."
Mr Hosford said staff proposed taking a balanced approach by asking councillors to approve a ban for this summer only and for a review in autumn.
"We will have ongoing consultation with the public in January to give us the opportunity for a greater feeling for public opinion."
The ban would include a 1100m stretch of beach between Kuku Rocks boat ramp to the south and the Pouhokio Stream mouth to the north. Emergency service vehicles and those vehicles used by the Waimarama Surf Life Saving Club could still be used on the beach.
People who wanted to launch their boats into the sea could continue to do so using the ramp at Kuku Rocks or at the Pouhokio Stream mouth.
The ban would be enforced by the police, council staff and volunteers. Signs will be set up explaining the ban.
The council and police also impose a liquor ban around the Waimarama village during New Years Eve.