Auckland traffic: Online threat over road Pukekohe road closures referred to police

An online threat against Auckland Council development agency Panuku, amid a backlash against road closures in Pukekohe, has led to a police complaint.

The temporary trial in the town centre started on April 24 and is expected to end on June 30.

The changes include turning parts of King St and Devon Ln into one-way streets to reduce traffic and improve safety for pedestrians, as well as creating spaces for outdoor dining and markets in the town centre.

But in a report to the council development agency’s board, chief executive David Rankin said the “overall majority of feedback” has been negative.

“Unfortunately, there has been a portion of this feedback that has been aggressive or inappropriate, including some that has targeted our staff. One case has been referred to the police.”

According to Auckland Council, the offending post was made on its “have your say” site on the project on May 11. It read: “You have 72 hours from now to put our street back to where it was or our construction company will pick up your junk and take it away.”

Pukekohe Police senior sergeant Peter Marriott confirmed police had received a complaint from the council about the comment.

“A male who made the post was identified and spoken to,” he said.

Marriott said the matter has now been dealt with and the person isn’t considered a threat.

A number of local residents and business owners Local Democracy Reporting spoke to are not happy with Panuku’s trial.

Brent Bertling, the owner of King St cafe Town Mouse, said it had been “disastrous”.

He claimed his turnover is down 30 per cent because of the changes.

“They need to return King St to being a two-way street.”

Pukekohe Business Association chairman Rupert Ross said members are concerned about Panuku’s changes.

A lot of people are quite passionate about the issue in the rural town, he said.

“It’s their livelihoods that are on the line. There are legitimate concerns and Panuku’s changes have made things more difficult for people.”

He said the one-way streets make it harder for people to get around the town centre.

Public consultation is due to finish on June 12.

A stakeholder advisory group is then expected to consider feedback on the trial in July before deciding whether to proceed with the changes.

Panuku priority location director for Pukekohe, Richard Davison, said the temporary trial allows the public to see the changes so the agency can gauge their response.

“The majority of the feedback from the business community has been negative, but that isn’t a first.

“The trial has attracted a lot of comments and it’s controversial. But we’ve already made changes and we will look at making more changes – we are listening.”

Davison would not comment on the post that was forwarded to police.

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