By Dominique Tassell
Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) discussed the road strategy for Warwick CBD at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 10 November.
Mayor Pennisi and CEO Dave Burges were out of room for the agenda item, as they were being interviewed by ABC regarding the Covid-19 case recorded in the region that day.
Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley chaired the meeting in their absence.
A staff member explained the project to the councillors, stating that SDRC had engaged an engineer “to determine the best cost-effective method to providing safety treatments”.
They stated that the early stages of the project saw the removal of the shared zone signs within the CBD, stating they weren’t legally compliant with the type of area.
They stated that 40 km/h is more consistent with the type of area.
The staff member stated that the next stage of the project includes putting raised platform crossing at a number of locations to provide consistency through the network.
Councillor Bartley stated there had been extensive feedback from the community.
Councillor Jo McNally questioned when the black spot funding allocated to the project had to be spent, to which the staff member replied that it had to be used by 30 January.
Councillor McNally asked whether there was time to let the motion lay on the table so they could have some further consultation.
“I know we’ve done the bigger road safety group but we didn’t actually have consultation with the Warwick and district community road safety group.”
She noted that SDRC had received correspondence from them with concerns, and she thought they should have a proper discussion with them.
The staff member replied that he believed they had sufficient time to do that.
“We can allow a couple of months,” he said.
Councillor Cynthia McDonald stated that David Kemp from B&K Motors, who is the President of the Warwick and District Community Road Safety Group, was present at the meeting and should be given an opportunity to speak.
Councillor Stephen Tancred stated that the project is mostly focused on changing people’s behaviour, and he would be concerned about waiting too long and causing more confusion.
“I’m wondering if we can’t talk this through,” he said.
The staff member then discussed briefly why SDRC staff had not opted to recommend zebra crossings, stating they require the use of a certain tool and “a large mix of things that have to be checked in this tool in order to substantiate a zebra crossing”.
He also stated that there were concerns around pedestrians having right of way causing queuing, which alongside angled parking may increase congestion.
He further stated that zebra crossings require lighting which would be an added expense.
Councillor Andrew Gale stated he was happy to support the report and recommendation as is, apart from concerns about the crossing at the exits from Rose City Shopping Centre.
Staff confirmed this would require more work, and the use of the aforementioned zebra crossing tool.
Councillor McNally reaffirmed that she would like to defer consideration of the motion to the next meeting.
“I think we need to get this right, so I think I would like to see the group come in and actually do a presentation, we work through those issues, and rather than doing something on the run today.
“I think that’s the better way to do it.”
Councillor Gow supported this, asking if two weeks was enough time.
The staff member stated they would prefer four weeks to two weeks.
Councillors then discussed moving the motion to a later meeting on 15 December.
Councillor Sheryl Windle stated that SDRC “really need to listen” to community feedback on this issue.
She stated that the feedback showed there was a large amount of concern in the community, and stated she would rather see it done correctly the first time.
David Kemp then addressed the meeting, stating that in his opinion the changes have been rolled out wrong the first time.
“It’s totally back to front,” he said.
He stated that the crossing should have been changed first, then the signage about giving way, and then the speed zone changes.
“To me, they’re going from 25 to 40 overnight like that and they’re going ‘why?’”
David stated that if zebra crossings need lights “so be it”.
“Put them up,” he said. “To save a life, we’ve got to do it, I feel.”
David further stated that the changes wouldn’t make much difference to queuing at crossings and roundabouts.
“People will give way to people if they think there’s a need for it,” he said.
He finally stated that he didn’t think a month was long enough for proper consultation.
Councillor McNally then moved an alternate resolution that SDRC defer further consideration of this matter to the Ordinary Council Meeting on 15 December 2021, which was seconded by Councillor Gow and moved unanimously.