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Vehicle ban aims to make party zone safer

NEWS RELEASE 4 December 2008

Late night vehicle ban aims to make party zone safer

A trial restricting vehicle access to Blair and Allen streets that starts this week is designed to make things safer for Courtenay Place's late night crowds.

For the next few weeks, starting tomorrow (Friday 5 December), vehicles will not be able to travel into Allen and Blair streets from Courtenay Place from 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights until 7am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The trial, organised by Wellington City Council and Police, runs until Christmas and is being carried out to help find the best way to make the areas outside the late-night bars safer for the large numbers of people who gather and queue there.

Barriers will be erected near the road on Courtenay Place and part way down Allen and Blair streets but residents will still be able to access part of both those streets from Wakefield Street. The road blocks will be manned and people with vehicles parked within the cordoned area will be let out if necessary, but the Council is encouraging people to move cars out of the area before 11.30pm if they can.

A second trial - more focused on reducing the number of vehicles parked in the area - is planned to run for a few weeks from late January, coinciding with the Rugby Sevens and other major events.

Senior Sergeant Simon Feltham says thousands of pedestrians are using these areas late at night and the resulting congestion is a major contributor to problems in the area.

"Restricting traffic access will minimise potential conflict between pedestrians and people in vehicles, reduce the number of fights and assaults that happen and make the streets safer for everyone," he says.

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ngaire Best, says the trial and other changes happening in the Courtenay Place area are all part of a five-year plan to reduce alcohol-related issues, improve safety and support the area's 24-hour economy.

"A major project to improve the lighting in the city's most popular night spot is virtually complete," she says. "New poles and lights have been installed down the centre of Courtenay Place from Taranaki Street to Cambridge Terrace over the last few months and the new lights will be turned on before Christmas."

The new eight metre-tall poles each have two energy efficient lights directed on to the footpaths to make pedestrian areas brighter and safer. The new low-glare street lighting, which is CCTV compatible, is designed to remove shaded areas and provide more consistent light levels.

Additional lights are also being installed in Allen and Blair streets on the existing overhead cables to improve the lighting levels there over the next couple of weeks. This will happen at night on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays to avoid disruption to businesses in the lead-up to Christmas.

This year the Council has also boosted the number of Walkwise officers working in the area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to assist the public and liaise with the Police to six - two more than there used to be.

Four new CCTV cameras will be installed in Courtenay Place early next year.


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