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Mystical Mathematics, Councillor’s Votes Ignored

By Greg Maidment on October 22, 2021 in News

It’s time for the parking spaces to be returned to the community. Photo: James Hutton

The September edition of The Beast alerted readers to the prime parking spots in Bronte Cutting signposted exclusively for Bronte SLSC which, adding to the chagrin of residents frustrated by the scarcity of parking opportunities, are often vacant.
Waverley councillors have voted to allow dedicated parking spaces for the use of surf club members, but only while on patrol or on other activities involving supervision and only on weekends and public holidays.
It appears that Waverley Council employees, obviously on instructions from someone with clout, have erected signage that unlawfully precludes the public from those spaces on ordinary weekdays. More spaces were signposted as exclusive to surf club members than have been authorised by councillors.
The public is entitled to be informed how it was that instructions were issued to council employees that resulted in signage wrongly favouring the surf club to the detriment of the public.
Both the council and the public should be informed of the process followed by the surf club in allocating parking privileges and as to which office bearer or employee decides who benefits. The council and the public deserve detailed information from the club as to those who have been allocated parking rights by the club over the past couple of years, and for what purposes and duration.
Such information would indicate whether the club should retain control over any parking rights at all.
These spaces should only be denied to the public in compelling circumstances, and then only to the necessary extent. The existing situation cannot possibly be justified.
It seems – and is understandable – that our mayor was unaware that there have been a series of behind the scenes activities that white-anted the well-meaning intentions of councillors. Additionally, it seems that the councillors, perhaps unwisely, have expected the club to manage the privilege granted to its members in accordance with the terms of that grant.

History
Waverley Mayor (since 2019) Paula Masselos is reported as stating that, “These designated spaces are used by SLSC members who are rostered on for patrol on the relevant day. In winter and other times, the surf lifesaving clubs utilise this parking for members undertaking training which is very important” (my emphasis).
That might be Council’s expectation, however it seems that it may not be the reality. The mayor’s understandable belief reflects the intention behind a generous vote of the councillors in 2013, accepting the following recommendation, “To accommodate surf club members on patrol (or other activities involving supervision such as during training, nippers and carnivals) Council will provide six allocated spaces for these members on weekends and public holidays” (my emphasis).
The club had asked for spots to be “available on Weekends and Public Holidays for Patrolling Lifesavers + IRB driver & crew + Bronze Medallion trainees/trainers.”
Understandably, it seems that the mayor’s statement might surprise patrol members as they are encouraged by the club to purchase a Beach Parking Permit, which does not allow them the spots Council voted to provide for their use. This despite the primacy of patrol members being the basis of both the club’s request and the Council vote.
The online club Parking Policy tells members that, if they purchase a parking permit from the council (available for $160 a year) then “the purchase of this permit allows Active Patrolling Members to park free of charge in Bronte Beach car park (The Cutting) without time restrictions whilst on patrol.” This policy statement fails to advise members that a vote of Council had allocated free car spots for their use while on patrol.
Thus, it seems likely that the club allocates these valued spots not necessarily in accordance with either the club’s assertion of need or the purpose approved by Council vote.
Gossip has it that club employees use the spots on weekdays, while our Council lifeguards do not enjoy a similar privilege. I prefer not to specify others said to be dubiously authorised to use the spots. I obviously can’t verify these stories, however the surf club will doubtless inform your readers of what actually has been occurring.
I suppose the question becomes, if the club doesn’t need parking for those on patrol, etc., as it asserts, then what is its need, if any? I do not know how the club has bestowed free parking privileges, if not confined to those on patrol, etc. One can only speculate. Clearly the grant is not intended as a perk of office nor for administrative staff, business acquaintances nor friends and relatives. One wonders who is left.
The Numbers Game
Back in 2013, Waverley Council granted patrol members and supervisors 6 spots of the then 140 available, and increased it to 9 in 2018. This year, the cutting was reconfigured with now 120 car spots. Council officers state that, consequently, the surf club lost just one spot. That should result in 8 spots, however the Council Major Projects team informs me that, after the club had lost one car spot, 9 remain. Miraculously, there were 10 signposted in late September, reduced to 9 in early October. I wonder whether there had been 11 before the reconfiguration?
The 2018 vote to afford 9 spots acted on a proposal stating that “the existing parking spaces are at capacity”, whatever that means, and “the increase will be consistent with the total number of parking spaces provided for North Bondi SLSC”.
The relevance of North Bondi SLSC escapes me, unless of course envy politics is justified. In any event, the Bronte increase was approved without, so far as the records disclose, any investigation as to who the club bestows the privileges upon and as to why and for what purposes the lucky recipients are/will be authorised to use them.
We do know that Council authorised 9 spots, which reconfiguration was to reduce to 8. It appears that, without a Council vote, it had been increased possibly to 11, certainly to 10, and now to 9, where conditions remain without appropriate approval by councillors.
Six of these exclusive spots are in a prized position in the steep cutting. One wonders why those convenient spots, supposedly for fit patrol members, were so allocated rather than giving the elderly and mums with young kids and beach paraphernalia the opportunity to use them.
A further 3 spots at the top of the cutting are, it seems, occupied pretty much 24/7 by the club’s box trailers, again used contrary to the councillors’ vote, and ranking box trailers above the public.

Weekends and Public Holidays Become 24/7
In June 2013 councillors voted to grant 6 spots for weekends and public holidays. That September the club was advised by a Council officer to the effect that it could have 4 spots each day of the week (i.e. 24/7) and the other 2 spots on weekends and public holidays. That clearly was different to, and not authorised by, the vote of the councillors.
In February 2015 internal work orders were issued by a Council officer requiring that the 6 spots be marked “Authorised Bronte SLSC Vehicles Only”, ignoring the limit to weekends and public holidays. Thus, the spots became exclusive to the club 24/7, radically different to and not authorised by a vote of councillors.
At no stage had there been a Council vote depriving the public of these spots on ordinary weekdays. Leaving aside weekends and public holidays, it seems to me that the public have been unlawfully precluded from them.
In any event, we now have 9 spots marked “Authorised Bronte SLSC Vehicles Only”, not limited to weekends, etc., despite there never having been a vote by councillors lifting the restriction of weekends and public holidays only, decided upon back in 2013.
One wonders why the club should be entitled to any spots when active patrolling members can obtain a permit to park free of charge in the cutting without time restrictions whilst on patrol.
How did all of this come about?

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