Right idea, wrong place
Regarding Mr Rick Bayne’s comment in ‘The Lookout. - The Case For’, The Standard, 1/12/2018.
I write this as an individual councillor in response to Mr Bayne’s comments to make some key points.
Firstly, as a community we all support rehabilitation services, but in the right location. Mr Bayne said emotive views should be discounted, which seems hypocritical, when in fact he used the term “not in my back yard protestors” as though the people involved were some sort of irrational thinkers. Council and/or potentially VCAT, might actually rule on planning grounds that an appropriate site for a rehabilitation centre may not to be in the backyard of Atkinsons Lane or the neighbour who is 20m away.
Secondly, Mr Bayne says we should put emotions aside and then emotively appeals to the community on “need”. VCAT has previously ruled that “need”, however great, should not “outweigh” orderly planning and is not necessarily the “determinative decision”. Therefore based on planning processes, it is only Mr Bayne who is appealing to the community’s emotions prior to the planning process playing out.
Finally, councillors have a duty to ensure they have all the information required to make an informed decision. Back in October 2018, I collated several queries (on behalf of all councillors) arising from the “objectors’ submissions”. It was only recently that some of them were clarified, some ambiguously clarified and some answers not provided or not available. As a councillor, I re-requested the information that I believed was central to a good decision.
I have written this from a planning perspective and I declare that I have not done any contracted PR, communications, marketing or media work for WRAD.
To summarise, the community is supportive of a rehabilitation service, but as VCAT has said before “need is not a factor that outweighs or overwhelms other normally decisive planning considerations” when site selection is undertaken.
Cr Michael Neoh, Warrnambool
I am extremely concerned but not surprised to find that Warrnambool City Council (WCC) are failing in their responsibility to manage obvious ‘risk’ in allowing race horse training to occur on Warrnambool’s Lady Bay beach.
Referring to the WCC Policy statement (available on the WCC website), WCC is responsible for identifying and managing risk in accordance with approved standards and continually improving practices. I note that the specified goal mentioned in the policy is to eliminate risk rather than to manage risk.
There are multiple significant public liability risks involved in allowing race horse training along the Lady Bay beach.
WCC is responsible for the implications of poor policy decisions involving high-risk activities being allowed to occur in a public place and ratepayers will ultimately pay a high price as a result.
For example, there are no barriers between horses and the public and the fact that horses can become erratic in their behaviour when frightened or stressed, makes for a very dangerous and unpredictable scenario.
There are no warning signs on any beach access points to warn of race horses being trained and exercised on the beach. There are multiple stairways accessing the beach which when a person (or child) were to step down on to the beach, they could be knocked over by a horse in full gallop. The conditions that have been recently specified by WCC for race horse riders to adhere to are not being adequately monitored and the likelihood of conditions specified being breached on a daily basis is extremely high.
On a 30-minute walk along the foreshore several weeks ago, I witnessed no less than three breaches of these conditions, including watching a horse being ridden at speed along the base of the dunes, immediately in front of the access steps onto the beach.
Currently, monitoring of compliance with the conditions as specified is the responsibility of a Warrnambool Racing Club employee, and not WCC itself, which significantly increases my concern. On discussion with WCC staff, I was told that a WCC staff member is able to perform ‘random’ checks to monitor compliance, but no regular monitoring was possible.
In this discussion, I was assured that if any members of the public had a concern regarding horse riders doing the “wrong thing”, that they could make a complaint to WCC, though how the public can do this without clear and obvious information by way of signage or publicised information indicates the difficulty likely with this process.
It is clearly very dangerous to allow race horses to be exercised and trained on a public beach and WCC should put an end to this unacceptably high risk activity.
Monique Ferrier, Warrnambool