Breaking into Fort Knox would be easier than getting access to public information at Manly Council!
First it was due to identity theft now the Mayor’s claim that Council is unable to publish Development Application information on its website due to “the Copyright Act in relation to architectural plans and similar documents” (Mayoral Column Manly Daily 30/6/12) continues the farce. Speak to any local architect, as I have done, and they will tell you it’s simply not a concern for them.
In this Saturday's paper the Council listed Development Applications that had been lodged as well as those that had been approved. But don't waste your time going to the website as instructed because despite having to agree that you understand there may be copyright issued, THERE IS STILL NOTHING ON THE SITE! Just the words - document not available. Want to know what has been approved? Forget it!
The Office of the Information Commissioner ruled on 11th April that Manly Council was breaching the Act by not providing open, transparent information on its website in relation to development applications. Who are they serving by not having this information easily accessible?
Sorry to rant but this is really getting beyond a joke. Here's an example: 106 Darley Road (Spring Cove Development) which is a major subdivision as part of St Patrick's Estate originally approved in 2004 comprising 17 residential buildings, 5 townhouses, 15 apartments. The developer wants to make changes to the original DA. Nothing's on the website (expect headings with 'No Document Available' listed again and again ... but that's OK. Fill out the two page form, lodge it with the Council and once you are granted permission, which could take up to three weeks, you can go to the Council Chambers, during office hours, and view the DA. That's this Council's idea of access to public information, which by law, should be easily accessible.
It's time for a change of Council!
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.