Following concerns raised by Clr Candy Bingham at Manly Council's Community & Safety Committee, Council Rangers and Police are to undertake a blitz to ensure better safety for cyclists and pedestrians in the Manly area.
They will target riders who don’t give way to pedestrians, disobey traffic signals and signs, ride on footpaths and do not wear helmets.
Cyclists riding on The Corso and other prohibited areas will also be targeted.
"Another area of concern has been cyclists riding across pedestrian crossings, particularly early in the morning in their haste to get to the ferry. Near the Manly Art Gallery is another area where residents have lodged complaints about careless cyclists causing chaos," Clr Bingham said.
While wanting to encourage bike riding as an alternative form of transport and exercise, safe practices need to be applied.
What has your experience been?
Manly Council's plan for a car park under Manly oval has taken a hit after the Office of Local Government raised seven major issues for the Council to address.
The Office has just released its initial assessment of the Council's capital expenditure plan for the $34M car park. It lists seven major concerns about the plan, which is already questioned by the Manly Chamber of Commerce, and opposed by all of Manly's precinct groups, a growing number of Manly residents and the four independent (out of nine in total) Manly councillors.
Council is required to respond to seven key issues before the Office can complete its assessment. They are:
1. Geotechnical risk. Council's claim that building the car park - a multi story structure under Manly's heritage oval and in an area known to flood after heavy rain - is a low risk enterprise. The Office notes that the Council's own technical report does not support that claim, based on initial geotechnical work.
2. The car park operating costs. The Council has been criticised for not taking these costs into account, as required in plans of this nature. This tallies with concern by residents and independent Manly councillors, who note that Council's one underground car park - in Wentworth St - is by far the most expensive of its four car parks to maintain. This contrasts with the Whistler St car park - slated to be pulled down - which is cheap to maintain and brings in $700,000 a year.
3. Interest rate assumptions. The Office questions Council calculations, which are based on an unchanging rate of interest of 4.3%. This is despite the fact that the rate is floating, not fixed, and the term of the loan runs for 50 years. The Manly Chamber of Commerce has already questioned this claim - understood by them as "an average cost of funds of 5% over the life of the project"-
4. Public support. The Office of Local Government didn't buy the Council's claim that Manly residents were right behind the car park plan. "It is apparent to the Office that there is a growing level of community concern and opposition to this project", it wrote. That's no surprise to the 400+ Manly residents who recently attended a Car Park opposition public meeting, or to Local MP and State Treasurer Mike Baird who has publicly aired his own concerns about the car park project.
5. Project management expertise. The Office also didn't believe the Council's claim that it was experienced at managing large projects, noting that previous Council projects have not been as large or as complex as the oval car park. Residents, who remember Manly Council's recent botched job of repaving the Corso, would agree.
6. Cost to fix Whistler St Car Park. The Council has been asked to explain its wildly varying estimates for this job. Council says $5M is needed to fix the car park, and gives this figure as a reason for pulling it down and building under Manly oval instead. But the Office points to the Council's own 2012/13 financial reports, where the car park is listed as being in "average" condition and "requiring no maintenance expenditure".
7. The sale of Whistler St Car Park. The Council was criticised for not taking into account the risk of the sale not going through.
While the Office of Local Government does not have the power to stop Manly Council going ahead with the oval car park plan, Mayor Jean Hay is on the record as saying she won't proceed unless the plan is assessed as financially viable.
Manly Council has acted to shut down debate on its controversial Manly 2015 plan, by gagging independent councillor Candy Bingham.
The move came just days before the March Council meeting, and was repeated again for the April meeting, with the rejection of a motion for the agenda which simply covered a number of procedural matters in relation to the proposed carpark under Manly Oval.
The council firstly claimed that Cr Bingham's role as president of the Good For Manly residents' group, which has opposed several aspects of the Manly 2015 plan, constitutes a conflict of interest in relation to the plan. As a result she was banned from participating in, or even listening to, any debate on Manly 2015 and notified that she must leave the council chamber whenever the Plan is discussed.
Clr Bingham thought she had resolved the matter by resigning as President of Good For Manly, however the same notice of motion was rejected again. Why? "it is considered you have a pecuniary and non pecuniary interest in the subject matter".....
"As an advocate who has no financial ties with any business in Manly, can someone please explain to me how I could possibly have a pecuniary interest in whether or not the Council builds a carpark under the Oval?" Cr Bingham asked.
In an attempt to rectify the matter, Cr Bingham's motion at this week's Council meeting requested that a number of sections of the Council's Code of Meeting practice be amended to bring them back in line with the Local Government regulations, which by law, over-ride the Council's Code.
It became clear during the debate that a number of other Independent councillors have also had motions rejected on the basis they were 'out of order' and that this practice was in fact systemic in Manly Council.
Stating that "this is the way we have always done things" and "Our Code was approved by the Division in 2011" the Liberal Councillors voted 5-4 against amending the Code of Meeting Practice.
“Frankly, this is an outrage,” Cr Bingham said. “The political views of a councilor do not constitute a private interest and therefore cannot constitute a non-pecuniary interest, which is what Manly Council is saying.”
“There is no conflict between my views and my public duty. As a councillor I am required by the Local Government Act to ‘represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers and to facilitate communication between the community and the council’,” Cr Bingham said. “Just because the council does not like the fact that there is now major opposition to the Oval Car Park proposal does not give them the right to shut down the debate.”
(A copy of the rejected 2015 Motion and the Motion in relation to the amendment to the Code of Meeting Practice are below).
Manly's digital parking system was brought in to end the "black market" in residents' free parking permits. But, according to many Manly locals it's awkward, unfair and unnecessary, although the right to four hours free on the oceanfront as from 3rd April, is definitely seen as a bonus.
A new Facebook page "Manly Council Parking - Wrecking our Beach Lifestyle" already has 543 likes, and its authors are busy establishing a committee to persuade the council to ditch the digital system.
The new system, which began in February, requires residents to apply for a permit online by registering their car's licence plates with the council.
Then, whenever they use a metered parking area, such as the bays at Manly ocean beach, they must type their car's licence number and intended length of stay into a meter. They then then print out a parking ticket and display it inside the windscreen.
It's a huge departure from the simplicity of the previous system, when residents got one sticker a year and all they had to do was fix it on the car windscreen.
Complaints on the Facebook page include the sheer inconvenience of the new system, with mothers complaining they now have to join a queue at the parking meter every time they park for 10 minutes to pick up a child from school. Elderly drivers and people with poor near vision say they have trouble using the small keyboard on the parking meters.
Many people are also annoyed that they have to carefully specify how long they will need each time, when the nature of a trip to the beach is that it may expand due to good surfing/swimming conditions or meeting up with friends.
A "Wrecking our Beach Lifestyle" post ridicules the "digital" tag, as in fact, the new system means residents now need to print out a ticket every time they park. "It's really going more manual," the post says.
"Now instead of getting a sticker once a year, a resident could potentially have to get a ticket once a day! Privilege and convenience gone in one fell swoop. And why? I don't see any of the net benefits. A case of fixing something that wasn't broken in the first place."
What has your experience with the new system been?
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.