The purpose of a public meeting on Monday about Te Puke's town centre was to let people have a say.

Using only that criteria, the meeting was a resounding success. Every one of the 150 or so people who attended, and who wanted to, stood up and spoke.

But anyone looking for answers or consensus on the road layout would have been disappointed.

The meeting was called by Western Bay of Plenty District Council Maketū-Te Puke ward councillor Kevin Marsh to allow the people of the area to have their say on the changes to the layout of Jellicoe St that were completed in early 2017, and the impact they have had on the town.


Unsurprisingly, traffic congestion was one of the hot topics and the debate came down to delays versus safety.

While some remain adamant the only way to solve the congestion problems of the town centre was to revert to two lanes, others spoke about how much safer the town is since the road through the town centre was ''one-laned''.

Maureen Binns from Paengaroa said she had never been in favour of the single laning of Te Puke.

''Getting through Te Puke is a nightmare,'' she said.

Margaret Bruce said since the road layout had changed she hadn't spent a single cent at the retailers in Te Puke ''because you can't get to them''.

She said it could take 20-25 minutes to get into Te Puke from Waitangi and coming into Te Puke at the start of the day was ''diabolical''.

Electrician Garth Burgener of Waterite Pumps and Electrical, said he and many other people working in service industries drive through town a lot getting to and from jobs.

He said for the period after the TEL was opened when there were still two lanes through the town, ''traffic flowed properly''.


But, he said, the congestion since the layout changed cost his and similar businesses time, and that meant money.

Retailers Murray Howell, Lynette Lochhead and Stuart Gunn were among those who spoke in favour of the new layout.

''I love the way the town is at the moment, with the single lane,'' said Murray. ''I noticed when it first went in, people were apprehensive, but using it more and more, they are au fait with it. People come into my shop and they love it.''

Stuart said he had seen a change in the attitude of people who now say they like the layout, although he acknowledged there was still congestion at traffic peaks.

''But you are never going to solve that.''

He said he thought the layout had fostered courteousness among drivers.

Several people, including Colin Olesen, recalled the dangers of two through lanes, recounting incidents where traffic in one lane had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the road, only for vehicles in the other lane to speed over the pedestrian crossing. Others spoke of the two lanes used by cars racing or as a passing lane.

Colin said he felt the two lane layout was unsafe.

''[Now] I feel safe and believe it is safer for all our community,'' he said.

Other parts of the refurbishment - most notably the planting - came under fire. A common theme was that plants blocked sight lines and created dangerous situations.

Some argued the choice of plants was wrong or that garden areas should revert to grass. Others recalled the disruption caused by weekly mowing.

The creation of the plaza outside Te Puke Jewellers also came in for criticism, because it had meant the loss of parking spaces and also because the plaza sloped, making it impractical to use.

A show of hands was taken at the end of the meeting on a number of issues and while the majority agreed elements such as planting and the plaza needed changing, meeting chairman Derek Spratt declared there was roughly a 50:50 split on whether the town centre layout should stay as it is, or go back to its former configuration of two lanes in either direction.